TAUNTON (CBS) —- A rudder malfunction apparently caused a deadly plane crash at the Taunton Municipal Airport Sunday morning.
Federal officials released the preliminary finding during a news conference Monday.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators say a “gust lock” was in place which keeps a rudder locked while the aircraft is on the ground. It should have been dis-engaged prior to takeoff.
NTSB investigators say the gust lock is usually engaged while the plane is in storage.
The NTSB said the recently purchased two-seat Aeronca 7AC went down shortly after takeoff.
The victims are identified as John D. Schmouth Jr., 69, who was piloting the aircraft, and Roland Deslauriers, 61, of Bridgewater.
“I hate to believe it was him, he was my friend,” Dave Chubbuck, a friend of Schmouth, said.
People living near the airport said they heard a loud bang before the crash. Witnesses tell investigators the engine sounded normal just before the crash.
The mayor of Taunton says this appears to be a horrible accident but the investigation is well underway.