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Preliminary report released on Victoria plane crash

Although it provides some new information, a preliminary report about the plane crash that killed three people on Saturday, Aug. 7, does not give a definitive reason as to why the plane went down. The report was released Thursday, Aug. 27, by the National Transportation Safety Board.

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Jim Edney and his wife, Deborah, on a trip to Alaska in 2019. (Contributed)

Although it provides some new information, a preliminary report about the plane crash near Victoria, Minn. that killed three people on Saturday, Aug. 7, does not give a definitive reason as to why the plane went down.

The report was released Thursday, Aug. 27, by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Dr. James Edney of Omaha, Neb., who owns a cottage on Lake Miltona, died in the crash, along with Edney’s stepson, Jacob Mertes, and Mertes’ wife, Dr. Sara Mertes. Edney was piloting the plan when it crashed in Carver County, west of Minneapolis.

The plane had taken off from Alexandria and was headed to Eden Prairie.

According to the NTSB report, the plane tracked left of the instrument landing system course and descended below 2,700 feet mean sea level when it was about 9.5 miles from the runway on final approach.

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The plane then transitioned into a right turn and descended below 2,500 mean sea level, which triggered a low altitude alert to the FCM tower controller. The controller transmitted a safety alert, which the pilot acknowledged.

The plane subsequently made an abrupt left turn and entered a rapid descent, during which radar contact and communications were lost. A distress call was not transmitted, the report said.

The report also said several witnesses heard loud popping sounds and observed the plane in a rapid descent with both wings "folded up."

The four-seat plane crashed into a house at 7956 Rose St., and caught fire. A family was at home at the time, but there were no injuries reported by those in the house or on the ground.

Both wings of the aircraft were found separated from the fuselage, with the left- and right-wing main and rear spars fractured near the wing rib outboard of their respective main landing gear, the report said.

Following the crash, the left horizontal stabilizer and left elevator were found about 720 and 800 feet southwest of the accident site, respectively, the report said.

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The remainder of the plane's flight control surfaces were accounted for at the crash site, but a six-inch section of the main wing spar upper cap splice was also found about 300 feet southwest of the site, the report said.

During a press conference last month, Mike Folkerts, NTSB air safety investigator said the horizontal stabilizer and elevator come from the tail area of the plane.

"You can think of the horizontal stabilizer as the rear wing of the tail, and then the elevator is hooked up to that," Folkerts said. "It helps the aircraft pitch up and down. …

"Without an elevator and a horizontal stabilizer the aircraft is not flyable," he said.

Initial examination revealed the left horizontal stabilizer separated about six inches outboard of the vertical stabilizer, the report said. The three outboard hinge blocks of the left elevator remained attached to the stabilizer, with the rivets pulled out and sheared off the elevator.

Additionally, the report said the main and rear wings spars were highly fragmented in the center of the plane between the separated left and right wings, with an 81-inch section of the main wing lower spar cap, located at the center of the main wing spar, fractured at both ends.

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The propeller was also separated from the crankshaft due to impact damage, the report said, with two propeller blades bent aft and one blade curled forward. All three blades exhibited chordwise and leading-edge scarring.

The airplane was retained for further examination, but Folkerts had said a final report on the crash won't be issued for at least 12-24 months.

James Edney, 72, was well known among the Alexandria pilot community and friends described him as an experienced pilot. Edney, an Omaha surgeon who was recognized as a top breast cancer specialist in the Omaha region, according to his obituary.

A few days before the crash, Edney and his wife, Deborah, had recently hosted a large family gathering, including Jim Edney’s siblings, at Lake Miltona, where Edney had spent time since he was a child.

Travis Gulbrandson covers several beats, including Osakis School Board and Osakis City Council, along with the Brandon-Evansville School Board. His focus will also be on crime and court news.
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