published Monday, July 2nd, 2012

First report on Dalton, Ga., plane crash due in 10 days

A firefighter hoses a burning aircraft in Whitfield County, Ga., on Saturday. The pilot, Chattanooga businessman Donald Holbrook, died when his Piper PA-31 Navajo crashed soon after takeoff from Dalton Municipal Airport.
Contributed photo by Ernesto Lua
A firefighter hoses a burning aircraft in Whitfield County, Ga., on Saturday. The pilot, Chattanooga businessman Donald Holbrook, died when his Piper PA-31 Navajo crashed soon after takeoff from Dalton Municipal Airport. Contributed photo by Ernesto Lua
Plane crash
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Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board have made their first visit to the site of Saturday's fatal airplane crash in Dalton, Ga., and will post a preliminary report in about 10 days, authorities said.

Eric Weiss, spokesman for the NTSB, said it probably will be a full year before a final report is issued giving the probable cause for the crash and making any needed safety or other recommendations.

"Generally what we look at are three basic aspects -- human, machine and the environment in which it was operating," Weiss said.

Investigators may make repeated visits to the site to gather physical evidence such as electronics or equipment, he said.

Chattanooga businessman Donald L. "Donnie" Holbrook was piloting the Piper PA-31 Navajo, a twin-engine six-seater, when it took off from the Dalton Municipal Airport about 4:15 p.m. Saturday, authorities said.

Witnesses said they saw the craft fly low over their homes with one engine not operating. Holbrook apparently tried to return to the airport but crashed in woods about a quarter-mile west of the facility.

The plane caught fire and the flames spread to woods around the crash site, Whitfield County Sheriff Scott Chitwood said Saturday.

On Sunday, an employee at the sheriff's office said there was no new information on the crash or the investigation.

Holbrook was an avid drag racer who operated Holbrook Performance Parts Inc., a supplier of parts for nitro and alcohol racers, in Chattanooga.

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