A two-seat plane crashed near an airstrip while taking off at the municipal airport in Collegedale, Tennessee on Friday. Airport officials said the pilot was killed in the single-engine plane crash, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.
The identity of the pilot is Edens, 44, who was a project manager at Empire Equipment LLC and also had a commercial pilot’s license, said Owen Ragland, an administrator at the Knoxville-based construction company where Edens had worked since 2007.
“Edens was an excellent pilot,” Ragland said. He had piloted the company’s Lancair IV-P four-seater since he began working for the company, flying regularly from Knoxville to one of his projects in Jackson, Miss.
Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board visited the site Thursday. Lead investigator Shawn Etcher said that “equipment problems and difficulty maintaining altitude” are believed to be the causes of the crash.
According to radio recordings of Edens’ last conversation with Chattanooga air traffic control, he lost visibility from the cockpit.
“I’ve got oil all over my windshield and am going to need some help for line-up,” Edens said as he requested an emergency landing.
The controller gave Edens directions to the Chattanooga airport, and after Edens said he couldn’t make it that far, redirected him to the Collegedale Airport about three miles from his location.
The aircraft crashed down in a grassy field short of the airport, demolishing the front end and leaving the pilot dead.
Five other planes have crashed at the airport since 2004, resulting in 11 fatalities.