NTSB releases preliminary plane crash report

Father, 2 daughters died in plane crash Sunday night

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report on the small plane crash Sunday night in Sandalwood that killed a man and his two daughters.

According to the report, about 6:21 p.m. Sunday, a Cessna 310R operated by 60-year-old Michael Huber crashed into a retention pond in the Sutton Lakes neighborhood during a missed approach at Jacksonville Executive at Craig Airport.

Huber and his two daughters, 17-year-old Abigail and 20-year-old Tess (all pictured below), died in the crash.

The flight originated from St. Lucie County International Airport in Fort Pierce about 5:15 p.m.

According to preliminary information from the Federal Aviation Administration, the plane was in radio and radar contact with air traffic control as Huber was performing an instrument landing system approach to runway 32 at Craig Airport.

Huber subsequently reported to air traffic control that he was doing a missed approach and would try to land again, and no further communications were received from the plane, according to the report.

LISTEN:  Radio calls between Craig tower, Michael Huber's plane
IMAGES:  Wreckage of plane pulled from pond

During the missed approach, the plane climbed from about 325 feet mean sea level to 425 feet msl before radar contact was lost.

The wreckage was later found about a mile south of the airport, submerged in a retention pond in Sutton Lakes. The wreckage was upright, intact and oriented about a southerly heading, away from the airport. The leading edges of both wings and the nose cone exhibited impact damage while the empennage, or tail assembly, was undamaged.

The wing flaps were extended about 15 degrees, and the landing gear was retracted. The pilot's side of the instrument panel was equipped with an electronic flight instrument system with backup attitude indicator. Both engines, the EFIS, and a digital engine analyzer were retained for further examination.

Huber held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane, according to NTSB. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on Aug. 2. At that time, he reported a total flight experience of 1,600 hours.

The recorded weather at Craig Airport at 6:33 p.m. Sunday was wind 60 degrees at 4 knots; visibility 2.5 miles in mist; overcast ceiling at 200 feet; temperature 18 degrees C; dew point 17 degrees C; altimeter 30.20 inches Hg.

Aviation attorney Ed Booth, who is a pilot himself, said he believes from the report and from his own data he's collected on this case that Huber became confused and disoriented because of the weather conditions.

"I believe in the final analysis it's going to be a case of pilot error, pilot becoming spatially disoriented," Booth said. "The pilot was not properly planning the approach."

Booth points to something else that's not listed in the report -- radar images that show where Huber was flying just before the crash, about five miles from the airport near Mayo Clinic. He was on an instrument approach it a straight line, which should be automatic, but radar shows Huber was weaving at different speeds and altitudes, Booth said.

Booth believe that should have caused the tower to issue him a warning.

"If the controller knew he was too fast, too low, out of position, did they warn him?" Booth said. "I would want to know if the tower warned the pilot of these irregularities. If this radar data is correct, I would think that would be called for."

The NTSB said any errors in its preliminary report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. That is expected to take about 9 months.

To read the full preliminary report, click here.

Funeral services for Tess Huber, who was a University of North Florida sophomore majoring in sports management and a member of the women's golf team, will take place at 10 a.m. Sunday at Beth El Israel Temple, located at 551 S.W. Bethany Dr. in Port St. Lucie. Her burial will follow the services at Beth El Memorial Park in Fort Pierce. In lieu of flowers, a donation may be made in her honor.

A scholarship fund, the Tess Huber Memorial Fund, has been established through the UNF Foundation. Donations may be sent to:

UNF Athletics
c/o Eric Nappy, associate director of development for Athletics
1 UNF Drive
Jacksonville, FL 32224

Also, an online donation site has been established in Tess' honor. Click here to donate, then go to the "Designation" tab and click on "Women's Golf," then scroll to the bottom of the page and enter the tribute information (Tess Huber Memorial).