WALKER COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - A report filed by the National Transportation Safety Board says the airplane that crashed on New Year's Day was taken without permission from the Walker County Airport by a student pilot.
The crash claimed the life of the pilot, 17-year-old Jordan Smith, and two of his friends, 17-year-old Jordan Montgomery, and 19-year-old Brandon Ary.
According to the NTSB report, the owner of the airplane told investigators he knew Smith from his work at the airport. He said he never gave permission to Smith to fly the plan, and he didn't ever take Smith flying in the aircraft. The owner said the plane was kept unlocked, but the 17-year-old did not have a key.
The manager of the Walker County Airport, where the flight took off, said the pilot had been working as a cleanup worker at the airport in exchange for flying lessons. The 17-year-old had completed his first solo flight on April 27, 2012, and did not receive any more lessons from the manager after that flight. The plane used to train the student was a single engine Cessna C-172.
According to the report, it was dark and rainy on the night of the crash. Witnesses heard the airplane flying very low and, shortly thereafter they heard a lout crash.
According to preliminary information obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration, no air traffic control assistance and no radio transmissions were made by the pilot prior to the accident.