Authorities have identified the pilot of a single-engine cargo plane that crashed minutes after taking off in Victoria.
Yutae Kim, 61, of Arlington, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash by Justice of the Peace John Miller, said Sgt. Ruben San Miguel, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.
An autopsy has been requested.
Kim, who was the only occupant of the airplane, was carrying UPS cargo for Martinaire Aviation, a Dallas-based carrier, at the time of the crash, San Miguel said.
A Martinaire Aviation representative declined to comment Tuesday.
According to Federal Aviation Administration records, Kim possessed certificates for airline transport, flight instruction and ground instruction.
Minutes after taking off from the Victoria Regional Airport, Kim’s airplane crashed at 8:17 p.m. into a clearing on private property near Benbow Road north of Inez.
Tuesday morning, National Transportation and Safety Board investigators were at the scene of the crash, he said.
An NTSB spokesman said preliminary findings into the crash would probably be available after 10 days.
A full report with safety recommendations will likely not be published until after a year or two.
Nevertheless, some information about the airplane’s last moments is already available.
Kim’s Cessna Caravan was called back to the Victoria airport after taking off at 8:02 p.m., San Miguel said. Bound for Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport, Kim was expected to land at 8:50 p.m., according to flight records.
Several minutes into the flight, Kim’s course became erratic and his airplane began changing direction wildly at about an altitude of 2,000 feet, said Robert Katz, a Dallas commercial pilot and certified flight instructor with 38 years flying experience.
At about an altitude of 4,000 feet the airplane began descending and crashed.
“That is very scary,” he said. “Two thousand feet is very low.”
Katz said he based that assessment on flight data measured by radar.
“Airplanes fly pretty much in straight lines. They don’t zigzag all over the place like this,” Katz said.Comparing Kim’s Cessna Caravan to a delivery truck, Katz described that kind of aircraft as “very popular and reliable.”
In fact, he said, that kind of Cessna features a belly cargo bay and side fuselage door for easily loading items.
He guessed the crash was caused by a malfunctioning aileron, a control surface on its wing used to steer the airplane.
That problem could have been caused by a maintenance oversight or an unavoidable mechanical failure, he said.
“It’s premature to point any fingers at this point,” he said.