The twin-engine Beech C-99 turboprop that crashed recently in Litchfield is seen in April 2023 at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in New Hampshire. Two crew members were killed. Officials continue to investigate what caused the crash. Courtesy of Alex H/MHTPlanes

The National Transportation Safety Board has issued its initial report in the August airplane crash that killed two in Litchfield.

The three-page report offers few new details on the last flight of the Wiggins Airways Beech C-99, based on what federal investigators found at the crash scene on Oak Hill Road, among other information.

It is an early step in determining the cause of the fatal crash, a process investigators say could take 12 to 18 months. Officials did not indicate what they suspect led to the crash at this point but noted there was no fire.

Pilots James Shepard-Kegl, 69, of North Yarmouth and Jumaaine Omari Stanley Melville, 37, of St. Petersburg, Florida, died in the wreck.

The report includes a witness account from a certificated pilot, who was working in his driveway when he saw the plane at an altitude of about 3,000 feet to 4,000 feet heading north.

“He recognized the plane as a ‘Beech 99.’ The engines sounded ‘very smooth,'” the report states. “He watched the airplane proceed over his house and looked away for a few seconds. When he looked up again, the airplane was in a ‘steep dive’ and heading towards (sic) Oak Hill. From that moment on, he did not see the airplane alter its course or attitude. As it descended, the wings remained level and the engines still sounded smooth. The airplane disappeared behind trees, and then he heard a ‘loud boom.'”


According to the report, the plane struck the tops of several oak trees about 50 feet tall, then struck soft soil about 140 feet east of where it struck the trees. Based on both the impact and the trees that were hit, the plane’s descent angle was about 20 degrees and the bank angle was about 10 degrees right wing low. The bank angle is the angle at which an aircraft is tilted to one side as it turns.

The wreckage path, about 424 feet long and 100 feet wide, indicates the plane was headed east.

The airplane was “heavily fragmented.”

The pilot in the left seat, Melville, had been recently hired by Wiggins Airways and was undergoing initial training with the regional freight carrier. This was his third training flight with Wiggins. Though he was new to the company, he had been certified as a commercial pilot since 2021. His total logged flight time was about 1,302 hours.

The flight instructor, Shepard-Kegl, had worked for Wiggins for several years. He had reported 14,700 hours total flight time on his most recent Federal Aviation Administration second class medical certificate application from a year ago.

Wiggins Airways is an all-cargo airline that operates in 12 states and provides feeder services for FedEx, UPS and other carriers, according to its website. The company is based in New Hampshire.

The investigation will continue as NTSB investigators examine the aircraft debris, which has been taken to a salvage facility in Massachusetts that specializes in aircraft salvage.

The remains of Shepard-Kegl and Melville were taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Augusta for an examination.

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