A decision to fly low over the Cuyuni River appears to have caused the death of Domestic Airways pilot, Captain Randy Liverpool, on Thursday.
Eyewitness reports and video footage gleaned by Kaieteur News show Liverpool flying extremely low over the Cuyuni River shortly before he crashed near the Eteringbang airstrip.
Kaieteur News was told that after flying that low, Liverpool was forced to fly at an almost vertical angle to avoid crashing into trees. His plane then apparently stalled, resulting in him crashing.
“He was flying low over the river and he had to make a sudden ‘pull up’ to clear the trees,” an aviation source said.
“When a plane goes vertical you sometimes can’t produce enough lift and the plane would flip. At that angle sometimes enough fuel doesn’t go to the engine,” a source said.
The veteran pilot was on his last flight for that day when the mishap occurred.
According to sources, Liverpool had done a similar thing the previous day.
“It was pretty much pilot error,” a source close in the aviation sector said. “The day before he was flying lower over the river.”
Sources close to Liverpool said the pilot and some of his colleagues had been cautioned before about carrying out similar stunts.
Photographs of Liverpool’s flight path that day also indicated that he had veered off his route while returning to the airstrip.
According to reports, Liverpool had done a number of other trips from Ekereku to Eteringbang on Thursday. During those trips, he had taken the specified route.
However, while heading back to Eteringbang on his last trip, he decided to fly over the San Martin Village, which is close to Venezuela, then fly over the Cuyuni River. It is estimated that he had enough fuel (some 30 gallons), which was enough for the return trip.
The Domestic Airways Cessna 206 aircraft 8R-GHB crashed on approach at the Eteringbang airstrip in Region Seven at approximately 17:45hrs on Thursday.
A police release stated that the aircraft was heading from Ekereku to Eteringbang and was about five minutes away from the Eteringbang airstrip when it went down. A loud explosion was heard and fire was seen coming from the aircraft.
Persons who rushed to the scene found the pilot engulfed in flames in the wrecked aircraft.
The body, which was burnt beyond recognition was eventually retrieved from the wreck and taken to the Eteringbang Police Station.
One eyewitness described the scene as “horrific,’ with rescuers struggling to drag the smoldering body from the wreckage.
Aviation sources had stated that the pilot was observed “coming in too low” as he approached the airstrip.
Liverpool’s remains were brought to the Eugene F. Correia International Airport at approximately 13:45hrs on Friday. Family members and colleagues were present to receive the body and offer moral support.
Kaieteur News understands that Liverpool was married and fathered a one-month-old child.
GCAA inspectors, along with an investigator from the Guyana Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation Unit have since returned from the crash site.
“The death of Captain Randy Liverpool has sent shockwaves throughout the civil aviation fraternity, including the GCAA,” the release state.
Liverpool worked with the GCAA as an Air Traffic Controller before pursuing his dream of becoming a pilot. He was employed with Domestic Airways Inc. for some five years.
Veteran aviator Captain Gerry Gouveia had described Liverpool as a ‘very experienced’ and ‘very careful’ pilot.
“The information that I have is that he was very experienced and very careful, and so it boggles the mind (as to what went wrong.)
And former army pilot captain, Miles Williams, who now flies corporate aircraft in the US, suggested that it was still too early to say what caused the crash.
“We had reports of the aircraft flying low. He’s very experienced; he’s been doing shuttles in the area for awhile. It could be engine failure or wind gusts (that caused the crash).”
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