NTSB release new details about deadly Watkinsville plane crash

Robert and Sandra Denton (Denton Family)

Federal investigators are looking into if weather played a role in a plane crash which killed a Michigan couple in Oconee County on April 26.

Authorities say 76-year-old Robert Denton and 75-year-old Sandra Denton of Williamsburg, Michigan were attempting to fly their single-engine Cessna 177B from Leesburg, Florida, to Barrow County Airport in Winder. According to a preliminary report released by the NTSB on Thursday, the pilot and the tower were communicating for the couple’ approach to the airport. The tower advised the plane to correct its heading and altitude. While waiting for other traffic to clear, the tower told the pilot to turn and gain altitude. When a new heading was given, the pilot did not respond back, the report states.

Radar contact was lost shortly after.

Emergency crews would later find the wreckage of the plane in an open farm field about 1.2 miles northwest of Watkinsville. The NTSB report states the right wing was found nearly a thousand feet away in the woods. Its flap was found at the top of a tree.

According to the Denton family, Robert and Sarah were seasoned pilots. The family says that "Robert and Sandra lived life to the fullest and were two of the most thoughtful and loving people you could know." They also say that they take comfort knowing they were together and doing what they loved, flying.

The Denton family thanked the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and first responders who were at the crash scene.

The cause of the crash has not been released and remains under investigation, which could last as long as two years.