NTSB: Deadly crash was pilot's 2nd solo flight in that aircraft

David and Kimberly Niblett were killed in the July 26 crash in Palatka


PALATKA, Fla. – Federal investigators on Wednesday said the pilot in last month’s deadly plane crash in Palatka had only flown the aircraft once before without supervision.

Preliminary findings from the National Transportation Safety Board show the pilot had 704 hours of flight experience; 15 of them in a Piper PA-24, most of which were with a flight instructor.

David Niblett and Kimberly Niblett, both 44, of Archer were killed July 26 when the Piper PA-24 aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff from Palatka-Kay Larkin Airport.

The plane had climbed 150 feet into the air when its left wing dropped and the aircraft spiraled to the ground, according to a witness account and airport surveillance video.

The aircraft, manufactured in 1959, was last inspected two weeks before the crash. Investigators who surveyed the wreckage said the engine appeared to be working properly.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

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