01/13/06 — Results are in from inquiry into accident

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Results are in from inquiry into accident

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on January 13, 2006 1:50 PM

A Wayne County pilot's failure to apply heat to the carburetor of his aircraft led to a crash he barely survived, according to findings by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Kent Larson's Cessna crashed into the Neuse River near New Bern on Nov. 16. He was not seriously injured in the crash and was rescued by boaters after clinging to a wooden marker.

Investigators said Larson's engine failed as he was preparing to make an afternoon landing at the New Bern Airport.

According to a report filed by lead investigator Corky Smith, the failure to switch on the heat led to the carburetor's icing and prevented Larsen from restarting the engine.

Larson said he does not remember the crash itself, only regaining consciousness under water after he had been ejected from the cockpit.

"I remember only the loud noise of the crash and woke up under water outside of the plane with bubbles all around going up -- it's brine and increased buoyancy," he said. "It was surreal, like one of those under water scenes with the light from the surface."

Larson said that he had tried to use the plane's right rudder to turn it upstream before impact.

"The right wing tip must have hit the water in turn because the plane started to cartwheel and roll over," he said.

Larson was treated and released from Pitt Memorial Hospital. He said his only physical complaint after the crash was a sore neck.

The wreckage of the plane was recovered in December by a crew from Georgia. Both wings were torn off in the crash.

A large hole was found in the roof of the cockpit. Larsen said he believes the impact of the crash shot him through the roof like a cannonball.

"The shock I am experiencing is the miracle of all of this and to have no serious injuries -- only a stiff neck," he said, adding that he is lucky to be alive.

Larson, who gives flying lessons, said he returned to the air a few weeks after the crash, to "get back on the horse that threw me."