Crash 1

Location data broadcast by the Beechcraft 58 plane during the last six minutes of its flight shows two roughly 360-degree turns followed by a final left turn near Galt, which is in the upper-right of the image. The blue arrow shows the direction of travel.

The airplane that crashed outside of Galt on Sept. 4, causing the deaths of its two occupants, was spinning as it descended, according to witnesses cited in an initial report on the crash.

“Multiple witnesses, who were hunting about one mile from the accident site, reported seeing the airplane spinning,” the report read. “One witness stated that ‘it was not nose down but more flat.’ Another witness stated there was no engine noise.”

Recently released, the preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board describes witness accounts and gives factual information on the flight, but it does not give a cause. A probable cause is unlikely to be confirmed in the near future; the board can take one to two years to release that information in a final report.

The twin-engine Beechcraft 58 visited several airports on the morning of Sept. 4, and it was heading northeast from Tracy when it crashed, the NTSB reported. The report did not give the plane’s ultimate destination.

Raley’s Supermarkets Chief Financial Officer Kenneth Mueller and Chief Pilot Richard Conte began their flight at about 7:07 a.m. on Sept. 4, at McClellan Airfield in Sacramento. Flight-path data on the journey, which was registered as an instructional flight, was provided by the Federal Aviation Administration. Following NTSB policy, the report does not identify the occupants, noting only that the pilot was receiving instruction from the flight instructor.

From McClellan, the plane flew southeast, arriving at Calaveras County Airport in San Andreas less than 20 minutes after takeoff. It then went to Modesto City-County Airport, arriving in about 26 minutes. It reached the next destination, Tracy Municipal Airport, 20 minutes later at 8:10 a.m.

Leaving Tracy, the aircraft headed north. While southeast of Thornton, it performed a roughly 360-degree turn to the right, followed by a 360-degree turn to the left, before continuing northeast.

At about 8:37 a.m., the plane’s speed briefly fell, from about 193 mph to 100 mph, then it accelerated to roughly 171 mph. At 8:39 a.m., the plane began to slow again. One minute later, it began to turn to the left and descend from 4,600 feet above sea level. The final data point captured at 8:41 a.m. showed the aircraft at 400 feet.

The plane crashed at 8:50 a.m., according to the report, in a slough covered in aquatic vegetation located about a mile north of the intersection of Twin Cities and Pellandini roads.

“There was no ground scar leading into the water, and only the vegetation immediately around the airplane appeared disturbed,” the report read. It said the major components of the aircraft remained attached, except for the left propeller, which had broken off. The windshield was shattered, and the structure of the plane had experienced “substantial upward crushing.”

“The airplane was recovered to a secure facility for further examination,” the report concluded.

The full text of the report can be downloaded by visiting https://bit.ly/3S5qkYl (case sensitive).