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FAA, NTSB investigating what caused experimental plane to crash into Cross Lake, killing its pilot

Aviation enthusiasts say the term “experimental” is a misnomer
The 2017 John M. Corneal Subsonex that crashed into Cross Lake in Shreveport, La., on May 23,...
The 2017 John M. Corneal Subsonex that crashed into Cross Lake in Shreveport, La., on May 23, 2021, is owned by Pocket Jet LLC, a corporation that lists its address in the 300 block of Marshall Street in Shreveport, federal aviation records show. Killed in the crash of the one-seat aircraft was Fred L. Phillips, manager of Pocket Jet LLC.(Source: FlightAware.com)
Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 6:33 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — The FAA and NTSB are investigating what caused an experimental plane to crash into Cross Lake, claiming the life of a Shreveport businessman and aviation enthusiast.

The FAA issued its initial report Monday, May 24 about the crash that occurred the afternoon of Sunday, May 23.

The preliminary report provides few details other than that the Sonex Subsonex piloted by Fred L. Phillips sustained substantial damage when it “crashed under unknown circumstances in a lake.”

The exact cause of the crash likely won’t be known for months.

The single-engine, single-seat plane with tail number N465JC is classified as an experimental aircraft.

But the aviation enthusiasts who build such aircraft from plans or kits say “experimental” is a misnomer. The aircraft are tested and certified as safe.

More than 33,000 experimental aircraft are flying these days. And the Experimental Aircraft Association has more than 200,000 members worldwide. EAA Chapter 343 is based at Shreveport’s Downtown Airport.

The 2017 John Corneal SubSonex that crashed Sunday was one of only 11 such micro jets registered with the FAA.

And that fatal flight is the first time that type of plane has crashed or been involved in an accident since it first was flown seven years ago, according to the FAA’s online database.

Aero-News Network interviewed Corneal in July 2017 about what it was like to build his first airplane then fly it. “The process took him about two years, and he said he built the little jet in his garage so that it was easier to go out and work on it after a long day at work,” the network reports.

Corneal first flew the jet on April 20, 2017. Afterward, Aero-News says, he told Sonex:

“N465JC took to the sky for her maiden flight this afternoon at 4pm. The flight lasted 40 minutes. The flight consisted of 10, 20, & 30 degree banks, slow flight in both clean and landing configuration, climbs and descents, and a simulated go around, followed by a return to the airport for a go around and landing. The plane handled flawlessly and was a joy to fly… Thank you for a wonderful design.”

Tune in to KSLA News 12 this evening to learn more about experimental aircraft and the aviation enthusiasts who build and fly them.

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