Report: Witness saw pilot in fatal East Patchogue crash circle low before hitting ground

National Transportation Safety Board investigators scour the scene National Transportation Safety Board investigators scour the scene in East Patchogue on Wednesday, June 18, 2014, a day after a single-engine plane crashed behind a house, killing the pilot, Hanan Shoshani, 53, of Jamaica, Queens. Photo Credit: James Carbone

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The pilot of single-engine plane who died when the aircraft crashed in an East Patchogue neighborhood two weeks ago circled the area twice at low altitude before the four-seater dipped to the right and slammed into a backyard, according to a preliminary report.

Pilot Hanan Shoshani, 53, of Jamaica, Queens, was on his way back to Republic Airport in East Farmingdale after reporting visibility problems on the morning of June 17 when his Columbia LC-41 crashed, officials said afterward.

Monday's report from the National Transportation Safety Board did not provide a cause for the crash. It emphasized the poor visibility conditions that morning and detailed the account of a witness who told investigators that after seeing the plane circle low above his home, he saw it "flying on its side" in a right-wing-low attitude before it struck a 25-foot tree and crashed.

It slammed into the backyard of a home on Camille Lane, officials said. No one else was injured in the crash.

The report says the plane's wreckage extended about 185 feet from the tree. The propeller, engine parts, and pieces of both wings were found on the path. But the main wreckage came to rest in the backyard and was completely consumed by fire.

The report also says Shoshani was flying without a flight plan and in conditions where the use of instrument panels would be recommended.

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NTSB investigators said at the time it was unclear if Shoshani was certified to fly using only visual flight rules or if he was certified with instruments. The report does not indicate whether Shoshani was instrument-rated.

"Several pilots flying in the vicinity of [Long Island MacArthur Airport] around the time of the accident reported instrument meteorological conditions, with cloud tops between 1,200 feet and 1,500 feet," the report says.

The report also details the brief conversation Shoshani had with air traffic control before the crash. After flying out of East Farmingdale at 8:50 a.m., Shoshani's plane tracked east-southeast before turning north into the airspace above the Ronkonkoma airport.

Shoshani contacted air traffic control and said, "I need your help, sir." The report said he indicated he was heading to MacArthur but didn't have visibility. When asked if he was declaring an emergency, Shoshani said no.

According to the report, "ATC acknowledged the transmission, and radar contact was lost shortly thereafter."

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