WASHINGTON, Pa. (AP) — Federal investigators say a witness saw a small plane flying low and “wobbling” moments before it crashed at a southwestern Pennsylvania airport last month, killing a former Ukrainian champion figure skater.
Officials said Igor Novodran, 52, of Upper St. Clair, was practicing touch-and-go landings at Washington County Airport before the March 11 crash near the runway.
The National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report quoted two airport workers as saying Novodran banked 90 degrees to the left while trying to make a “short final” approach to the runway and continued descending toward the ground.
Another witness who lives about a mile away in South Franklin Township said the airplane was flying much lower than other planes she has seen practicing touch-and-go landings on the runway, the (Washington) Observer-Reporter reported.
The witness said she saw the plane “wobbling” from side to side before it turned left and lost attitude, then heard a “muffled” sound she believed was an impact, according to the NTSB report.
Investigators haven’t said whether the aircraft had any mechanical or engine problems. The wreckage was taken for further analysis, and a GPS unit recovered from the scene was sent to a laboratory in Washington.
Novodran, a Ukrainian National Champion skater in his youth, had in recent years coached skaters in international competitions. Kim Sailer, who coached with him at the Island Sports Center, said he had been flying for about five years.