CHATHAM, La. – Ice may be to blame for a Feb. 6 plane crash that claimed three lives in Jackson Parish, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Chris Mudd and Wade Williams, both of Shreveport-Bossier, and pilot Robert Gilliam of Minden, died in the crash. They were traveling from Jackson, Miss., to Shreveport when the plane went down into the side of a logging business on Highway 34.
The NTSB report said the pilot of the four-seat single-engine Cessna 182 reported to Monroe Air Traffic that he was encountering ice at about 6,000 feet and requested a lower altitude. He was given permission to descend to 4,000 feet but denied a request to go to 2,000 feet. ATC said 3,000 feet was the lowest he could be cleared to.
About 5 minutes later, after the descent, the pilot asked to divert to Ruston Regional Airport to remove ice off the airplane. Radar lost contact with the airplane before it reached the approach, the report states.
Preliminary data shows the airplane’s ground speed slowing and a rapid descent. Other than the report of ice, no distress calls were received from the pilot, according to the report.
The plane grazed the top of a logging company owned by David Greer. Employees said they heard an engine getting close and a loud crash. None of the employees were injured.
The NTSB report states the airplane hit the ground almost nose down. It caught on fire upon impact.
A preliminary weather study showed several other aircraft that were operating in the area reported ice at various altitudes near the accident site. The Ruston airport, located about 14 miles northeast, reported a cloud ceiling at 1,100 feet.