A National Transportation Safety Board investigation into a small plane that crashed on the Ole Miss Golf Course began this week. The pilot of the single-engine plane died from injuries after the plane crashed Saturday, authorities said.
Lake Little, a student pilot and the only person on board, was practicing touch-and-go takeoffs and landings when the plane crashed Saturday around 3:15 p.m. No one on the ground was reported hurt.
Little, an 18-year-old from Starkville, was airlifted to a trauma center in Memphis, where she died Saturday night.
Ed Malinowski, the investigator for the NTSB, said at a press conference on Monday that he was working with the plane’s manufacturers and the Federal Aviation Administration to examine the wreckage for details about the crash. He also said he would take radar records and witness accounts of the crash for his report, though black boxes are not required on small planes like the one that Little was flying.
University spokesperson Rod Guajardo told media outlets that the plane affiliated with the Civil Air Patrol was a Cessna 172 and went down near the 17th tee of The Ole Miss Golf Course. The Civil Air Patrol is an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force in which citizen pilots carry out emergency service missions when needed.
Little’s brother tweeted that she had enlisted in the National Guard a few weeks ago.
Bystander Brian Scott Rippee told The Oxford Eagle that he was near the ninth hole of the course when he saw the plane encounter trouble.
“It looked like it was landing and then aborted the landing and we saw it struggle to come back up,” Rippee said. “Then, when we were walking off the green it just fell straight down into the trees.”
News photographs showed firefighters beside the apparently charred fuselage of a red, white and blue plane, downed near some trees with its wings and tail visible. Another photo showed a medical helicopter hovering near the crash site.
Reports say a fire truck drove onto the course in response to the crash and that Oxford and university police also responded along with sheriff’s deputies.
“Such sad news about Lake Little,” Gov. Phil Bryant said on Twitter. “A beautiful light has passed from this world far too soon. Deborah and I pray the dear Lord would assuage the pain and grief of her parents and family.”
Malinowski said that a preliminary report would be online in a week and a final report would be out in six months to a year.