“They don’t have definite schedule,” he said.
Hodge was the pilot on a Piper Aztec plane that went down Oct. 13 on a routine newspaper delivery between St. Croix and St. Thomas. The bodies of passengers Darwin Carr and Rachel Hamilton were removed from the plane Sunday after it was found in 100 feet of water on Saturday.
Valerie Jackson Thompson was the only survivor. She was pulled from the water about nine hours after the plane went down.
The National Transportation Safety Board posted preliminary data on the accident. While it did not identify Thompson by name as the survivor, the report indicates she told investigators from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Federal Aviation Administration that she remembered the airplane "hitting a wall" and "seeing a flash" before the airplane filled with water. She said the pilot broke the window on his side of the airplane, and that she and the pilot egressed through it. She did not see any of the occupants of the airplane after that.
Thompson said that she was acquainted with the pilot and had flown with him on this flight "many" times before.
She said that while en route the airplane flew progressively lower to "get under the weather." Thompson said she could see lights on the shore near the destination airport and could see that it was raining. She recalled light turbulence and said she observed the pilot as he made his "usual" radio call.
When asked if she noticed anything unusual with the flight, or if the pilot provided any warning before striking the water, she said no, and indicated that everything was "normal."
Preliminary radar data revealed that the target identified as the accident airplane climbed to 1,700 feet after departure from St. Croix’s Henry E. Rohlsen Airport, where it leveled in cruise flight on a 330 degree heading for about two minutes. The airplane then entered a steady descent on the same approximate heading for the next 10 minutes until it leveled at 200 feet. The airplane cruised at 200 feet for the final 18 seconds of the flight until the radar target disappeared, approximately five miles from the destination airport.
At 4:53 a.m., the time when Hodge left the St. Croix airport, the weather reported on St. Thomas included few clouds at 3,300 feet and a broken ceiling at 4,600 feet with light rain. The winds were from at 9 knots gusting to 15 knots. According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, the moon was in the eastern sky, 9 degrees above the horizon, with 5 percent of the moon's visible disc illuminated.
According to the preliminary report, the pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with multiple type ratings. His most recent first class medical certificate was issued June 1. He reported 18,000 total hours of flight experience on that date.
The airplane was manufactured in 1963, and its most recent 100-hour inspection was completed on Sept. 12 at 6,576 total aircraft hours.
Examination of the wreckage was scheduled for a later date.
The NTSB indicated earlier that it will take up to a year to complete the investigation.