The pilot at the controls of a fatal crash that killed both him and a New Orleans television reporter had requested to return to the airport shortly after takeoff, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.
On Aug. 16, Nancy Parker, a respected journalist for Fox affiliate WVUE, was filming a piece on a stunt plane with pilot Franklin J.P. Augustus to honor the Tuskegee Airmen, a pioneering group of black pilots who fought in World War II.
The PITTS S2B aerobatic plane crashed near New Orleans Lakefront Airport following a forced landing, killing both Parker and Augustus and destroying the plane, according to the NTSB report, released Tuesday.
An initial review of the video filmed during takeoff shows that the plane lifted off the runway and climbed out before it took a turn to the left toward a downwind, according to the report. Augustus had requested to return to the airport via radio shortly after takeoff, personnel in the air traffic control tower told investigators, but he did not specify the reason for wanting to return.
Air traffic control had acknowledged Augustus’ request to return, but the plane kept flying south of the airport and did not return, according to the report.
Witnesses reported observing the plane in what appeared to be a steep descent, NTSB officials said. The plane impacted the ground nose down at about a 45-degree angle, evidence at the wreckage site showed.
No deficiencies were noted in a review of the plane’s historical maintenance logs. The cause of the crash was not stated in the preliminary report.
Parker graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in journalism and worked for the station for 23 years. She is survived by her husband and three children.
Last week, Parker’s husband, Glynn Boyd, wrote on Facebook that he’d been experiencing “the toughest two weeks” of his “entire life.”
The couple’s three children have remained “resilient” and “seem to be staring down this adversity,” Glynn wrote.