NTSB releases preliminary report in deadly Marion plane crash

Law enforcement officials on the scene of the plane crash off of Bluff Road.

The National Transportation Safety Board issued a preliminary investigation report this week on a plane crash last month in Marion that killed John Milton Sherbert.

Sherbert, 64, was flying a experimental amateur-built 2/3 P-51 B/C Mustang airplane on June 13 when it crashed in a cornfield off of Bluff Road shortly after it took off from Marion County Airport.

The NTSB report says on the day of the accident, Sherbert told his wife that he had planned only to taxi the airplane to circulate the oil.

It adds she observed Sherbert perform a preflight inspection, start the engine, then taxi to the runway, where he remained at idle for "5 to 6 minutes" prior to taking off.

The airplane lifted off the runway about "midfield," and the pilot retracted the landing gear, according to the report.

It says Sherbert's wife described the airplane's initial climb as "normal" and after reaching the end of the runway, the airplane made a "sharp left turn", "sank" and entered a "nose dive."

It says the airplane disappeared from view behind trees, and she subsequently heard the sound of impact.

NTSB investigators add Sherbert's wife reported that she did not hear any engine roughness or interruption of power during the takeoff.

NTSB says the preliminary report is subject to change and may contain errors. It adds any errors will be corrected when the final report has been completed.