Early report: biplane cleared to return but didn’t turn back

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A preliminary federal report says that although a biplane pilot had been given clearance to return to a New Orleans airport, he didn’t turn back before the plane crashed, killing him and a TV anchor last month.

Emmy-winning reporter and anchor Nancy Parker was working on a documentary about pioneer black stunt pilot Franklin Augustus when his two-seat biplane crashed shortly after takeoff from New Orleans Lakefront Airport on Aug. 16.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board report released Tuesday, Augustus asked to return to the airport without saying why, and was cleared to do so.

Although an NTSB statement the day after the crash quoted witnesses as saying the plane appeared to have engine problems, Tuesday’s preliminary report said nothing about that. It said the pilot was heading south and never turned back, crashing in a field.

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