MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Reversing an earlier decision, the National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating what led to a small plane crashing into the ocean near Myrtle Beach State Park earlier this week.
On Wednesday, NTSB officials said the agency was gathering information, but would not be conducting an investigation. On Thursday, that changed.
According to NTSB spokesperson Terry Williams, it is not unusual to gather information at the very beginning and then decide to investigate.
Williams said the NTSB is working with the Federal Aviation Administration and gathering information on the aircraft. He added they hope to interview the pilot and witnesses, as well as look at weather conditions on the day of the crash.
According to Williams, the NTSB hopes to have a preliminary report finished in five to seven days.
The crash happened shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday. The pilot took off from Myrtle Beach International Airport and then reported engine trouble, Myrtle Beach Fire Deputy Chief Tom Gwyer previously said.
At that point, the pilot ditched the plane in the water. He got out and was thrown a life jacket from a helicopter circling above.
The pilot did not suffer severe injuries in the crash.
According to the NTSB website, the pilot was uninjured after the plane was ditched in the Atlantic Ocean shortly after takeoff from Myrtle Beach International Airport.
The plane, headed for Charleston, was not recovered and is presumed to be severely damaged.
The pilot said he took off from runway 18 and at about 300 feet above ground, he "felt a strong jolt, as if something had hit [the airplane]." The engine then stopped, forcing the pilot to perform a ditch landing.
The pilot stood on the wing of the plane until it began to sink. He was rescued after a tour helicopter flying nearby dropped him a life preserver.
Maintenance records showed the plane was most recently inspected October 1. As recently as March 20, the plane’s engine oil was changed and the oil filter was inspected with “no abnormalities found.”
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