Pilot David Sapp called air traffic controllers three times in the hours before his death: Once to report a fuel problem in his small twin-engine plane, again to say it had been resolved and once more to tell them he had been wrong. He wouldn’t reach Lunken Airport.
Sapp dropped off ATC’s radio and radar moments later. The plane plunged from the sky and into a Rollymeade Avenue home, killing him on impact.
He was 62 years old.
The fuel leak Sapp reported that day had been known for over a week at the time of his death, according to a preliminary report released Thursday by the National Transportation Safety Board. Sapp had complained to a relative about the smell, which he said stung his sinuses.
The company for which Sapp worked knew about it, too, accord to the NTSB. The plane was at one point intended to be swapped for another and repaired — however, “the accident airplane remained parked for a few days, was not exchanged, and then the accident pilot was brought in to continue flying the airplane.”
The plane had been registered to Mississippi-based MARC, Inc., a Mississippi-based company that advertises itself as a survey, surveillance and global imaging specialist.
Sapp, who had more than 1,000 total hours of flight experience in the same type of aircraft involved in the crash, was on an aerial photography run for them at the time of his death.
The preliminary report represents the end of the NTSB investigation's first stage. Shortly after the crash, investigator Todd Gunther said a complete report would likely be released in 2020.