Southwest Wake News

Apex man’s plane crash is 3rd in 3 years

The Apex pilot who crashed a single-engine plane at the end of a private airport runway late Sunday afternoon has crashed twice before in town since 2011, according to National Transportation Safety Board records.

A spokesman with the NTSB said Tuesday that it could take up to a year to determine what caused Bryan Esterly’s plane to crash into some trees at Deck Airpark Airport, near U.S. 64.

Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration issued a preliminary crash report, saying the plane “lost power on takeoff.”

The FAA said the plane was an Alon Aircoupe A2 co-owned by Esterly and Mark Gooch, who both live on Air Park Drive.

No serious injuries

Esterly was in the cockpit Sunday with his 15-year-old grandson when the two took off around 5 p.m., officials reported.

The Alon rolled about 300 feet down the runway when it crashed in the woods, causing “substantial” damage to the plane, according to the FAA’s preliminary crash report.

Emergency workers transported Esterly to the hospital where he was treated for injuries not considered life-threatening.

His grandson, Derrick Esterly, was not injured, said Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison.

Pilot has crashed before

It was the second time in eight months that Esterly, 74, has crashed a plane at Deck Airpark Airport, Harrison said.

Last August, a Cessna 172E Skyhawk he was piloting overshot the runway, hit an embankment and flipped, according to the FAA.

A child identified as Esterly’s grandson was on board the Cessna, Harrison said, and neither of them was seriously injured.

Harrison said he was not sure whether the grandson involved in the August incident was the same one aboard the Alon that crashed Sunday.

“The pilot is the same pilot,” he said. “But there’s some confusion as to whether it’s the same grandson.”

Previous crashes

NTSB records show that Esterly was also piloting a Luscombe 8E, a single-engine plane, that crashed in Apex on May 3, 2011.

Details about the 2011 crash and its causes were unavailable Tuesday.

NTSB spokesman Terry Williams said it will be up to the FAA to decide whether to impose penalties or conditions on Esterly’s ability to continue to pilot aircraft.

FAA officials were unavailable for comment Tuesday.