WISHEK, N.D. -- The National Transportation Safety Board should have a preliminary report on a Thursday plane crash that killed three people in Wishek within five days.
Colbie Fandrich, 20, of Wishek, was the pilot of the Piper PA28-140 that crashed into May Lake at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. His aunt, Christine Fandrich, 38, of Bismarck, and cousin, Aaron Nordstrom, 10, of Bismarck, were passengers in the plane, McIntosh County Sheriff Laurie Spitzer said.
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Mike Folkerts, investigator in charge of the crash scene for the NTSB, said he is working with three people from the Fargo office of the Federal Aviation Administration and representatives from the manufacturers of the plane and its engine.
The purpose of the investigation, Folkerts said, is to try to prevent future similar events from occurring. He said they will look into factors related to the pilot, the airplane and the environment that could have led to the crash.
Folkerts said Friday afternoon he did not know for sure whether there was a witness to the crash. He said there was no way yet to confirm earlier reports that there was trouble on takeoff.
“We’re not sure at this point if there is a witness who actually saw the accident,” said Folkerts, explaining the Wishek Airport is not controlled, so it is not unusual for someone to take off with no one around.
Wishek is about 100 miles southeast of Bismarck or about 80 miles southwest of Jamestown near the South Dakota border.
A final report on the crash will not be completed for six to 12 months, Folkerts said.
The plane was believed to be en route to Bismarck. Colbie Fandrich got his private pilot’s license last year, Folkerts said. He said the plane may have reached an altitude of 200 to 500 feet before crashing,
May Lake is about a mile across a grass field from the Wishek Airport. Wishek Fire Chief Dave Just said the water is about four feet deep. A four-person team from Bismarck was working to retrieve the plane from the lake Friday afternoon so it could be inspected. After inspection, it will be taken to salvage in Minneapolis.
The four-seat plane was manufactured in 1964. Folkerts said that’s not old for a plane; there was a high production rate for such aircrafts in that decade, he said.
The plane belonged to a club, and Fandrich was believed to have rented it.