'Flat Spin' Seen Before Houston Plane Crash That Killed 3

by Ben Rappaport /  / Updated 
Image: Houston Plane Crash
A small plane that crashed into a car in a parking lot near a Houston airport is roped off on Thursday, June 9 The aircraft had been trying to land at Hobby Airport, in the southeastern part of the city, when it crashed less than a mile northwest of the airport.Steve Gonzales / Houston Chronicle - AP

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A small single engine plane was making an undirected pass at a Houston area airport Thursday when the aircraft apparently went into a spin and crashed, killing all three people on board, an accident investigator said Friday.

The plane, a Cirrus SR-20, was equipped with a parachute but it did not deploy before the 1 p.m. crash in a parking lot near Hobby Airport, National Transportation Safety Board investigator Tom Latson told reporters.

The parachute canopy was still stowed in its pouch inside the airframe," Latson said.

Those aboard were not identified by officials. Family and friends told NBC affiliate KPRC they believe the three were headed from Norma, Oklahoma, to visit the father of two of the passengers at a hospital.

The initial investigation indicated the aircraft made an approach at one runway, was directed to go around to a different runway, and was told to go around a second time because the aircraft was too high, Latson said.

The pilot apparently decided to go around a third time without being directed, he said, but all three approaches were cleared by air traffic controllers.

The plane banked and crashed in a parking lot of a hardware store. Surveillance video “showed the aircraft was in a flat spin in the moment of impact,” Latson said.

The plane has a parachute that is activated by a T-handle inside that launches a rocket, but a rocket did not deploy until the moment of impact, he said.

No one on the ground was injured, officials said. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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