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Crash investigation will take months

BROOKHAVEN – The investigation into a plane crash that claimedthe lives of two former Brookhaven residents will be long andextensive, said officials.

The crash Saturday morning at Brookhaven Municipal Airportkilled Dr. James “Jimmy” C. Barnett and his wife, Margaret “Missy”,both 1968 Brookhaven High School graduates.

The Barnetts, residents of Winter Park, Fla., were killed when atwin-engine plane piloted by Dr. Barnett nose-dived just short ofthe landing strip.

According to Tim Monville, air safety investigator with theNational Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in Miami, theinvestigation is in the first phase and will last approximately sixto nine months.

“We have examined the plane, and now it’s a matter of justcompiling the information to determine what was the aircraft’sconfiguration at the time of the accident,” he said.

Investigators are looking into the initial report that the planemay have stalled during the turn toward the landing strip.

They are concentrating some of their efforts around a controlcable that appears to have malfunctioned.

“There was one flight control cable, the right aileron, that Iretained to have our office in Washington to look at it. . . todetermine the failure, whether it was a result of the impact orpre-impact,” said Monville.

A representative of the engine’s manufacturer has alreadyexamined the engine, and investigators are awaiting a report on itscondition prior to the crash.

The report is one of many items on a long list of neededinformation to properly conduct a thorough investigation, addedMonville.

“I’m also waiting on transcriptions of communication with theHouston Air Route Traffic Control Center,” said Monville of thecenter that oversees all aircraft traffic in the southern portionof the United States.

Investigators will also need information to determine the trimsettings of the rudder and flap positions, which will helpreconstruct the plane’s position before the nose dive.

Monville said he is awaiting autopsy and toxicology reports,too. Barnett’s log book, which records pilots’ flights, will beexamined as well to determine how experienced he was inaviation.

Barnett was considered an accomplished aviator with around 30years experience, friends and family members have said.

NTSB and Federal Aviation Association officials have beeninvestigating the crash since Saturday night when the BrookhavenPolice Department rendered the scene to them.

Brookhaven Assistant Police Chief Arlustra “Pap” Henderson saidthose officials are authorized to investigate all plane crashes.The police department, along with other authorities, have attemptedto help with the investigation when possible.

“We just secured the area for them,” said Henderson. “Weassisted in any way we could.”