NTSB Cites Poor Visibility In Rockefeller Plane Crash In Westchester

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Richard Rockefeller
Richard Rockefeller Photo Credit: Rockefeller Brothers Fund
A Piper Meridian single-engine plane like the one piloted by Richard Rockefeller when it crashed Friday, June 13 in Purchase.
A Piper Meridian single-engine plane like the one piloted by Richard Rockefeller when it crashed Friday, June 13 in Purchase. Photo Credit: Luxuryaircraft.com

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- The single-engine plane crash in Purchase on Friday, June 13, that killed Richard Rockefeller, the grandson of financier John D. Rockefeller Jr., may have been caused by poor visibility, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a report released Saturday.

Rockefeller's Piper Meridian crashed shortly after takeoff from Westchester County Airport after slamming into trees and terrain. The NTSB said visibility was limited to a quarter-mile at the time.

"Preliminary information from the Federal Aviation Administration revealed that the flight departed (at 8:06 a.m.) 0806 and that the air traffic control tower was contacted shortly thereafter by the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control facility inquiring if the flight had departed," the NTSB report said. "The local controller responded that the flight should have departed but that 'visibility was so low he couldn't tell.' "

The 65-year-old Rockefeller was piloting the plane and was the lone person on board. He was en route to his home in Maine after coming to Westchester to celebrate the 99th birthday of his father, David Rockefeller, the only surviving son of John D. Rockefeller Jr., and only surviving grandson of Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller.

Read the full NTSB report here.

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Crashing into tree tops indicates a problem with elevation. Was the plane overloaded?