NASCAR plane that crashed had smoke in cabin


Control cables were broken in the NASCAR plane that crashed into two suburban homes, killing five people earlier this month, federal investigators said today.

Inspectors found several breaks in the cables running through the right wing and forward fuselage of the twin-engine Cessna 310 that crashed July 10 in Sanford, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

However, the report did not speculate on whether the cables broke before or during the crash, and did not specify what parts of the aircraft those cables would have controlled.

The cause of the crash will not be determined for several months, officials said.

"They're just verifying what they can in the wreckage," NTSB spokesman Ted Lopatkiewicz said.

A longer factual report won't be issued until late 2007 or early 2008, Lopatkiewicz said.

Witnesses had reported seeing smoke trailing from the plane as it sped low over the neighborhood and seeing its wings "rocking" before it sharply banked and slammed into the homes, the report said.

The crash killed both people aboard the plane, NASCAR Aviation pilot Michael Klemm and Dr. Bruce Kennedy, the husband of International Speedway Corp. President Lesa France Kennedy.

Three people in the homes that were hit and gutted by fire also died: a 24-year-old law student, her 6-month-old son and a 4-year-old neighbor. The 4-year-old's parents and a 10-year-old boy were rescued by an off-duty firefighter living nearby and were hospitalized with severe burns, officials said.

The plane was traveling from Daytona Beach to Lakeland, a 100-mile trip. The pilot reported smoke in the cockpit shortly after reaching 6,000 feet, and air traffic controllers at Sanford Orlando International Airport gave him clearance to land on any runway, according to the report. The last radio transmission, about a half-minute later, was cut off in mid-sentence.

When the plane went down, its landing gear and flaps were not deployed, indicating the pilot was not prepared to land, federal officials have said.

Investigators still aren't sure who was piloting the plane. Kennedy had a pilot's license but was authorized to fly this plane only when accompanied by Klemm, according to the report.

The plane was registered to Competitor Liaison Bureau Inc. of Daytona Beach, which is registered under the name of William C. France, the NASCAR chairman who died last month at 74. Lesa France Kennedy is his daughter.

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