By MICHAEL WHITNEY
Latest update: Monday, November 21, 2022, 3 p.m.
Fatal small plane crash in field between Snohomish and Monroe, officials say wing separated midair
Carol Beach photo
A column of dark smoke rose from the fire at the crash site, as seen the morning of the crash with authorities attending.
SNOHOMISH — Four people onboard a small plane died when it crashed hard in an unworked farm field between Snohomish and Monroe around 10:20 a.m. Friday, Nov. 18 and went into flames.
It was a single-engine Cessna Grand Caravan 208B turboprop carrying engineers who were conducting a test flight. The plane had taken off from Renton Municipal Airport at 9:24 a.m. that morning.
The plane’s right wing separated in flight mid-air, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) confirmed Monday afternoon. The wing was located in the field about 200 yards from the wrecked fuselage.
A company based in Tukwila, Raisbeck Engineering, was leasing the plane. The company issued a statement Sunday that two experienced pilots and two engineers working for them were who lost their lives.
Their names were not public at press time.
Raisbeck leased the plane from a small flying service based in Alaska. Raisbeck said it was doing standard tests to collect baseline performance measurements for a stock Cessna Grand Caravan. The company develops and sells aftermarket plane performance parts that reduce drag and improve efficiency.
The company said the plane “had not yet been modified in any way by Raisbeck” for Friday's fatal test flight.
The pilots did circles in Snohomish County at varying altitudes before a sudden plummet, according to charts on a flight tracking website that publishes real-time airplane position information.
Multiple people saw the moments before the crash. Pamela and Rick Rothermell were traveling on U.S. 2 when they saw it.
It looked like smoke was coming out of the back of the plane before the crash, Pamela Rothermell said. It was a nosedive. “It happened so fast,” she said.
Colton Patterson was working on a roof in Snohomish’s Dutch Hill area and said he heard a notable boom and then saw two metal objects spiraling down.
“It was a smoke show spiraling down because the wing was off it,” he said over Facebook Messenger. At first he thought someone was doing airplane stunts until he saw the debris falling down.
Dutch Hill homeowner Brianna Jones-Mattes said she believes something as large as the engine fell onto the bottom of her property and “long flat pieces” that may have been wing parts followed from the sky.
Investigators with the NTSB have recovered the wreckage and will reconstruct it. They may issue a preliminary report by early December. The investigation is expected to take 12 to 24 months.
When the plane hit the field and caught fire, one of the first people to respond was a man who lives in a farmhouse along the highway who jumped on his motorbike and went to the site.
Snohomish Fire District 4 reports multiple people tried to fight the fire with handheld extinguishers while emergency crews were en route.
Firefighters had a hard time suppressing it, let alone accessing the site in a field near Westwick Road and U.S. 2. Firefighters connected 2,000 feet of hose together to work on suppressing it, Fire District 4 reported.
Public data for the plane's registration number says this Cessna was built in 2021. FlightAware.com’s tracking data shows this Cessna had conducted at least six other short flights that departed from Renton Municipal Airport during the week, mostly landing back at Renton and a couple landing at Paine Field, before Friday's crash.
Raisbeck's performance parts are built specifically to be fitted onto a few models such as the Cessna Caravan and lengthier Grand Caravan. The company's product portfolio is predominantly for the Beechcraft King Air family of turboprop planes.
If you witnessed the crash or have information about the situation, NTSB investigators can take statements at firstname.lastname@example.org
A section of U.S. 2 between Snohomish 88th exit and Westwick Road was closed for part of Friday as emergency crews were in the area.
Public domain photo
An example of a Cessna Grand Caravan 208B.
Michael Whitney photo
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