More than a year after a small plane crashed near Salem killing the pilot, the National Transportation Safety Board has issued its final report on the incident from January 2019. It shows how the pilot desperately tried to avoid crashing into a populated area.
Long-time Sioux Falls attorney, Comet Haraldson told air traffic controllers that he was having chest pains and was blacking out. He was thrown 100 feet from where his plane was found in a McCook County field.
Now, after more than a year, the NTSB’s final report gives us Haraldson’s last words as he tried to make sure he didn’t crash where anyone would be hurt, as well as what vital records the FAA was missing.
Comet Haraldson was returning to Sioux Falls from a shopping trip to Cabella’s in Mitchell. The NTSB has ruled that the cause of his crash was a heart attack. Before crashing, He told air traffic control:
This map shows the maneuvering and circling he did while in the air.
Air Traffic Control Audio: “I need you to find a road rather than circling up over there. Is there a road nearby you can find and land safely on?”
Haraldson complained of ungodly chest pains and his last words were: ” I don’t think I can hold it much longer.”
An autopsy revealed that Haraldson had 80 percent blockage on his left artery and 50 percent on his right.
According to the report, Haraldson’s medical records indicated his high blood pressure was “well controlled.” He had asked his doctor to fill out his BasicMed form. The NTSB says his doctor did attest to Haraldson’s ability to safely operate an aircraft. The medical records also included the history form filled out by Haraldson during this process; however, the FAA had no record of receiving the pilot’s BasicMed documents.
Both the NTSB and FAA say they don’t have an answer as to why they didn’t have Haraldson’s documents on record.
The government shutdown in 2019 delayed the NTSB’s final report on this South Dakota plane crash.