NTSB releases early report on WA plane crash that killed former astronaut

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its preliminary report on the deadly plane crash near Orcas Island on June 7, which claimed the life of a former astronaut.

Former Apollo 8 crew member William Anders died when his plane went down in Puget Sound and exploded on the surface of the water. Officials with the United States Coast Guard Pacific Northwest said the crash happened near Orcas Island before 11:45 a.m.

According to the report, Anders was flying a Beech A45 stored at a museum facility he founded. His son told investigators that Anders had come in "in good spirits" with the goal of performing an "Orcas run" — which is where he would fly around the San Juan archipelago, pass over his previous home on Orcas Island, then come back.

Anders took off around 10:50 a.m., and at 11:00 a.m., a family friend said they received a text message from him saying he would be flying past her house at 11:40.

Accident location. Red line indicates approximate track based on radar data; blue circle denotes location of main wreckage.

The NTSB's report largely confirms what was already seen on video — at some point, Anders' left wing began to drop, and the airplane started rapidly descending. The plane went upside-down and plummeted toward the water. As he neared the water, Anders pulled up and out of the dive, but not soon enough. Just before its wings could get level, the right wingtip struck the water, and the plane pulled apart and exploded immediately.

Investigators say the fuselage was found 1,700 ft west of the last area he was pinged on radar.

There is still no information on what led to the vertical plummet, and no other witnesses have come forward.


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This is a developing story. Check back for updates.