The National Transporation Safety Board has released its findings in the 2019 plane crash that Dale Earnhardt, his wife Amy and their daughter Isla survived along with their dog and two pilots. The crash at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Elizabethton, Tennessee was caused by pilot error.
“The pilot’s continuation of an unstabilized approach despite recognizing associated cues and the flight crew’s decision not to initiate a go-around before touchdown, which resulted in a bounced landing, a loss of airplane control, a landing gear collapse, and a runway excursion,” the report states.
“Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to deploy the speedbrakes during the initial touchdown, which may have prevented the runway excursion, and the pilot’s attempt to go around after deployment of the thrust reversers.”
You can read the full NTSB report here.
Junior and his family were traveling to Tennessee for a race at Bristol Motor Speedway where he was working as an analyst for NBC Sports. Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford reported no serious injuries to those on board.
The NTSB photos show how lucky the passengers were to walk away that day. “Now that you know realities and dangers it will never be the same again,” Earnhardt Jr. said earlier this year while looking back on that day. “It’s something that you’ll never be able to forget…it’ll never block out no matter how many flights you take.”
“Before I flew I basically didn’t inquire about the weather or any details, any technical information about the length of the roadway we’re flying into or I didn’t know the performance of my own plane as far as it’s ability to land and take off and what kind of airstrips that it could or that, couldn’t do that,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “There’s a lot of things that I just didn’t even think about and I just left it up to the guys that were flying the plane that if they were comfortable, I was comfortable.”
He said things are now different when he flies.
“I’m overly, extremely overly safe on some of those decisions to the point where it might be annoying to my pilots they’d never admit that.”