AIKEN - A preliminary investigation of the fatal Oct. 25 airplane accident at fogbound Aiken Municipal Airport found no obvious mechanical problems with Vincent Goransky's 42-year-old Beechcraft Bonanza.
Nor did the brief National Transportation Safety Board document uncover anything unusual with the published instrument landing procedures for the city-owned airstrip, officials said. The report is the first step in the investigation that could take a year or longer to complete.
With no clear clues to focus on, federal safety investigators will have to sift through the wreckage of Mr. Goransky's V-tailed, single-engine aircraft, hunting for signs of engine, control surface, instrument or fuel system problems, lead NTSB investigator Butch Wilson said Wednesday.
"You just can't make assumptions," said Mr. Wilson, who is based in Atlanta. "You have to look at everything and see where that leads us."
The NTSB report summarizes the fatal accident, which took place at 8:27 a.m. Mr. Goransky was trying to land at Aiken Municipal after a short flight to Spartanburg, S.C., where he had dropped off two granddaughters.
While making an instrument approach to the main runway, Mr. Goransky, 74, a retired Delta Air Lines pilot, slammed into trees and the ground about three-quarters of a mile southeast of the runway.
His aircraft burst into flames and came to rest upside down on the eastern shoulder of Gregory Pond Road.
An autopsy uncovered no signs of heart attack or stroke, said newly elected Aiken County Coroner Tim Carlton. Mr. Goransky, who was the only person aboard, died of injuries from the crash, he said.
Although the lengthy NTSB investigation could still uncover a mechanical problem, veteran aviators such as Don Barnes, a certified flight instructor and member of the Aiken Aviation Commission, said the Bonanza is a fast, robust aircraft with plenty of fuel capacity. Mechanical, fuel or instrument problems, although possible, aren't likely, he said.
"I would expect this to be some form of pilot error," said Mr. Barnes, who noted that two nearby airports in Augusta and Columbia had better weather conditions at the time of the crash. "Why he didn't go over to those two places, I don't know. "
Mr. Goransky lived at Twin Lakes Executive Air Park near Trenton, S.C., a subdivision with an airstrip that caters to aviation enthusiasts.
Reach Jim Nesbitt at (803) 648-1395, ext. 111, or firstname.lastname@example.org.