Witnesses saw smoke or exhaust before Va. plane crash that killed 16-year-old pilot

ORANGE, Va. (AP) — A preliminary report says two witnesses reported seeing a thin trail of smoke or exhaust from the engine before a small plane crashed in Orange County.

The report by the National Transportation Safety Board says the witnesses also told investigators that the Piper single-engine fixed-wing plane made a sharp left turn while taking off. The plane then descended to the ground.

The pilot, 16-year-old Ryan Lee McCall of Spotsylvania, was killed in the March 29 crash east of the Orange County Airport.

According to the report, he was a student pilot with 30.6 hours of flight experience, including 2.7 solo hours. He had planned to fly to Farmville Regional Airport.

The flight school's owner told investigators that the pilot appeared to initiate a left turn that was earlier than customary.

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