Landing gear malfunction blamed in plane crash carrying Dale Earnhardt Jr.


ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WATE) – The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary crash report on the Aug. 15 incident involving the plane carrying Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family.

The plane was attempting to land when the crash occurred. NTSB says surveillance video at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport revealed the right main landing gear collapsed and the outboard section of the right wing hit the runway shortly after the third touchdown of the aircraft.

Initial reports had said the plane bounced twice, then crashed – the video corroborates this information, and the fact that the landing gear collapsed during the plane’s landing and subsequent bouncing or touchdowns.

After bouncing twice then touching down the third time, the plane then left the runway entirely, went into an open grassy area, down an embankment, through a chain link fence, and up an embankment – coming to rest on the edge of the Tennessee Highway 91.

After the plane came to a stop, the crew secured the engines and helped the passengers – Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family, with evacuation via the main entry door.

A post-accident fire was occurring during their evacuation – starting near the main entry door, the right wing, and near the tail of the plane.

NTSB also saying the pilots’ account of the crash was “generally consistent with the video.”

“The pilots also reported that, following the second bounce, a go-around was attempted; however, the airplane did not respond as expected, so they landed straight-ahead on the runway and could not stop the airplane prior to the excursion,” the report stated.

The wreckage of the aircraft has been retained by NTSB for further examination.

RELATED: Dale Earnhardt Jr. issues first statement following fiery plane crash

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