NTSB: Pilot said he 'lost his engine' in distress call before deadly Auburn crash

Local News

AUBURN, Calif. (KTXL) — The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report detailing the final moments before a father and son were killed in a plane crash in Auburn.

Anthony Wright Sr. and his 55-year-old son, Anthony Wright Jr., were killed on the morning of Jan. 24 when their World War II-era Stinson Vultee V-77 went down in a backyard near Dry Creek Road.

The NTSB’s report said the high-wing monoplane took off from Auburn Municipal Airport around 9:45 a.m. in calm, clear conditions.

Before the plane was destroyed roughly 15 minutes later, a witness at the airport told investigators he heard the pilot make a distress call claiming he had “lost his engine,” according to the NTSB. The pilot then radioed that he was going down into some nearby trees.

The preliminary report also says several witnesses on the ground “heard the airplane’s engine ‘backfiring’ and ‘stuttering’ and subsequently heard the engine quit.”

The vintage plane hit tall trees on the way down and the day of the crash a Placer County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman told FOX40 it was “extremely mangled” when it was found in the unoccupied backyard.

A private pilot on board the plane was also seriously injured in the crash.

Loved ones told FOX40 they found comfort in knowing the 80-year-old father and his son died doing what they loved.

“They passed away together, they passed away flying. I mean that brings us a lot of solace,” said Mena Hoopes, the daughter and sister of the victims. “At the airport, they were referred to as ‘the Tonys’ and they were inseparable.”

A 23-year veteran with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, Wright Jr. was just six weeks away from retiring.

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