EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report following the fatal plane crash at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport ahead of the Great Pocono Raceway Airshow in August.
The report details the moments before the pilot, Andy Travnicek, a member of the GEICO Skytypers Airshow Team, declared an emergency and fatally crashed.
The report says several of the Skytypers were practicing a formation takeoff, two at a time in 15-second intervals.
According to the pilot in the No. 4 airplane, while Travnicek was sliding into position, his landing gear was retracting and the plane began to decelerate.
The report says pilot No. 4 heard Travnicek say over air-to-air frequency “Three’s got an emergency.”
Travnicek’s plane continued to descend when the smoke system came on and the airplane impacted the ground and caught fire, the report states.
A witness, who was outside of the airport’s provided video that showed when Travnicek’s plane flew just prior to the accident, says they heard popping noises similar to backfiring of an engine, the report says, but no smoke was observed from the airplane while this was occurring.
The wreckage of the airplane was retained by the NTSB for further examination. We will update with more information when it is made available by the NTSB.