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Palm Beach Daily News

NTSB probe into fatal Lantana plane crash finds corrosion on wing part that enabled banks, turns

By Julius Whigham II, Palm Beach Post,


LANTANA — A component of the control system for a small plane that crashed and killed two people last month at the Lantana airport showed signs of corrosion and tension overload when investigators examined the wreck, the National Transportation Safety Board said in its preliminary report.

The report noted a separation in the aileron control system of a single-engine Cessna 172 that crashed May 26 at Palm Beach County Park Airport, killing flight instructor Stanley Sands, 76, of Lake Worth Beach and student pilot Ana Matias, 20, of Lantana.

The report is the first step in the NTSB's investigation. Its full report on the crash is expected to take several months to complete.

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Plane's engine made 'full-throttle' noise prior to crash

The aileron is part of the wing and enables a plane to make banks and turns. The NTSB report references a pulley that helps control movement of the aileron.

"The pulley did not rotate freely, and corrosion was noted," the report said. "Several other breaks noted in the aileron control were consistent with tension overload failures."

The report indicates that the Cessna departed from airport runway 4, rotated and began to climb. The aircraft descended and climbed again. It then rolled to the right until it was in a 90-degree right bank and continued in a right descending turn until it crashed.

A pilot who witnessed the crash told investigators the aircraft's engine "sounded like it was in full throttle the entire time," the NTSB report said.

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NTSB unable to review maintenance logbooks

The report indicates that a local flight school purchased the Cessna on May 4, just three weeks before the crash. Sands was an instructor at Airmax Aviation based at the Lantana airport.

The NTSB report indicates that the airplane had its most recent annual inspection in September. The previous owner indicated that the maintenance logbooks were lost and would be turned over to the new owner once they were located, according to the report.

A woman who identified herself as the owner of Airmax Aviation but did not give her name told The Palm Beach Post in May that Sands was an excellent pilot who had worked for the company for several years.

"It's a big loss," she said. "He was quiet and reserved, but he was a good employee and very patient with students."

Matias was a student pilot who hoped to become a commercial pilot, her relatives said.

The fatal crash was the second at the Lantana airport this year. John Holland, 43, of Delray Beach and Michael Marshall Jr., 34 , of Boca Raton died when their Diamond DA40 crashed late on March 5.

Julius Whigham II is a criminal justice and public safety reporter for The Palm Beach Post. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter at @JuliusWhigham . Help support our work: Subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: NTSB probe into fatal Lantana plane crash finds corrosion on wing part that enabled banks, turns

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