An NTSB investigative team is in Oxford, Mississippi, to figure out why a single engine plane went down Saturday, killing a teenage pilot who just enlisted into the Mississippi Air National Guard.
By all accounts, 18-year-old Elizabeth “Lake” Little – heading to Southern Miss in the fall – had a bright future ahead of her, as she trained to become a licensed pilot.
The plane will be moved sometime Tuesday as the NTSB carries out a months-long investigation.
The team investigating the crash hopes radar and air traffic control data will accurately depict the final moments of the flight, which took the life of Starkville’s Miss Hospitality pageant winner and the daughter of a Starkville alderman.
“The three main things we look at is the airplane, the pilot, and the weather conditions at the time,” NTSB air safety investigator Ed Malinowski said.
That’s the challenge for NTSB investigators, as they figure out what caused the Cessna 172 to go down at the Ole Miss Golf Course Saturday afternoon, a half mile from the Oxford Airport.
“Initial statements we were told the aircraft was climbing up and made a turn and was slow and descended impacted terrain,” Malinowski said.
Malinowski with the NTSB said the solo pilot – 18-year-old Lake Little – intended to fly round trip between Columbus and Oxford, Mississippi, – a nearly 40-minute flight.
“The flight was from Golden Triangle airport here to Oxford and return back to Golden Triangle,” Malinowski said.
Little served in the Cade Wings program with the Civil Air Patrol, which accepts those between 12 and 21 years old. A CAP spokesperson said the program requires a minimum of 40 hours logged flying time, both alone and with an instructor.
“Student pilots are examined, and they’re endorsed by instructors who allow them to go on student flights,” Malinowski said.
Lake Little’s brother Layton tweeted this weekend ‘she was so proud’ when posting a picture of her sister enlisting just three weeks ago with the Mississippi Air National Guard’s 172nd wing in Jackson. We are told she actively volunteered in her Starkville community and church and those who knew Little described her as personable and talented.
“All the prayers to her family,” Ed Field. “There’s a mom and daddy that are really sad right now.”
The NTSB is expected to release a preliminary report in the next week or so and a final report is expected within the year.