Plane that crashed in Hartsville was an experimental aircraft

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says a small engine plane that crashed in Hartsville Saturday night killing three men was an experimental amateur aircraft that was licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The plane was a Lanceair IV-P model with a turbo-prop engine with 725-horsepower, and could seat four people.

"It's an experimental amateur aircraft that is built from a kit. And it's licensed under what's known as the experimental category by the FAA. It was previously owned by somebody else and then the owner completed the kit afterwards," said Todd Gunther, NTSB Air Safety Investigator.

The small engine plane went down in the yard of a home off of Fox Hollow Drive Saturday night.

The victims identified are George Thomas Rogers, 61, of Society Hill, Joseph Melton Loflin III, 29, of Pelzer, and Leslie R. Bradshaw, 75, of Hartsville, according to Darlington County Coroner Todd Hardee.

An autopsy has been scheduled for all three men for Monday, March 10 in Newberry, SC.

Hardee says Rogers owned the plane. They're not releasing if he was the pilot at the time of the crash.

Loflin was Rogers' son-in-law and Bradshaw was a family friend, according to Hardee.

Rogers' father was killed in a crop duster plane crash many years ago, Hardee added.

The NTSB says it will be looking into a number of issues that may have led to the crash.

Gunther explained, "We look at everything. So we'll be looking at the physiology of the people that were on board the aircraft. The structure of the aircraft. In other words how it's put together. The systems on the aircraft. In other words. The electrical systems. Both the hydraulic systems. The flight control systems of the aircraft. We'll also be looking at the weather including what weather conditions were present that day and how it may have affected the flight."

The pilot called 911 at 6:45 p.m. about landing gear problems. He tried to make an emergency landing at the Hartsville airport when the plane crashed at 6:55 p.m according to Sheriff Wayne Byrd.

The NTSB says a preliminary report of the crash will be released in about seven days.

However, it could be up to nine months to one year before a probable cause is determined.