CLEVELAND-After months of digging, the FOX 8 I-TEAM has obtained audio recordings never heard before shedding new light on a plane crash into Lake Erie that left 6 people dead. These tapes captured the final words of the pilot as he spoke to the tower at takeoff.
The crash happened in December just after the plane took off from Burke-Lakefront Airport in Cleveland.
Earlier, the Federal Aviation Administration released recordings between the Burke Airport control tower and the tower at Hopkins Airport.
Now, for the first time, we’re hearing the discussion between pilot John Fleming and the Burke Tower in the moments leading up to taking off. The I-TEAM pressed for these recordings to see if they’d provide more clues to the unsolved mystery of what happened? What caused the plane to go down.
You hear Fleming say, “Lakefront Tower. Citation 614 Sierra Bravo. Holding short of 24 right. Ready for takeoff.” The tower responds, “614 Sierra Bravo Lakefront Tower. At 24 right. Turn right heading 330. Maintain 2000 cleared for takeoff.”
The final words heard from Fleming show him repeating the last instructions. He said,
“Right turn to 330. 614 Sierra Bravo.”
Most notable here, no distress call from the pilot. And, before takeoff, routine chatter about flight instructions. No sign of trouble as that pilot
Moments after the plane took to the air, it vanished from radar. Recordings between the two towers show air traffic controllers mystified. One said, “614 Sierra Bravo come over with you?” The other responded, “No, I saw something come up. Hit 3, disappeared on me.”
The I-TEAM fought for months to obtain the new recordings with dozens of emails and phone calls to federal agencies, local officials, and a private contractor involved as well.
Back to the mystery at the heart of this. What caused that plane to go down in Lake Erie? The I-TEAM just checked with the National Transportation Safety Board. Investigators are still working on what's called a factual report. But that still could be months away.
The crash killed everyone on board including four members of the pilot’s family and two neighbors.
Only some of the remains of the victims were recovered. The I-TEAM has reached out to the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner to find out if investigators there were able to determine anything about the crash. Meantime, we reported earlier, investigators recovered the cockpit voice recorder. It captured everything it could about the flight. That could help a lot in figuring out what went wrong.