Preliminary report released in fatal Conway plane crash

troot@thesunnews.comAugust 15, 2013 

Federal authorities released their preliminary report into a plane crash that killed two Horry County men and a 16-year-old boy in Conway earlier this month, according to online records with the National Transportation Safety Board.

The report issued Thursday showed that the plane, a Beech D55 fixed wing multi-engine, took off from the Conway-Horry County Airport about 12 p.m. Aug. 3 and crashed about an hour later at the entrance to Woodcreek subdivision along Dunn Shortcut Road.

James Wayne Major Jr., 39, of Conway was the pilot of the plane while Kenneth James Piuma, 42, of Myrtle Beach and Donald “Donnie” Dale Becker, 16, of Conway were passengers and all died at the scene of the crash, according to Horry County authorities.

In the report, NTSB investigators noted that no flight plan was filed for the personal flight and no weather conditions were involved.

Witnesses told authorities they heard the plane approach from the southwest and noticed it was “extremely low,” according to the report. The witnesses said the plane “then executed a steep right turn, leveled its wings and begun to rock side to side.”The plane spun about 180 degrees and then crashed and exploded.

Horry County and Conway fire crews extinguished the fire and closed Dunn Shortcut Road for more than a day until the wreckage was removed to a salvage facility for NTSB investigators

The crash occurred about two miles from the airport and all flight control equipment were accounted for at the scene, according to the report. Officials also removed a handheld GPS receiver, two smart phones, an iPad mini and a Garmin GTN 750 from the wreckage.

Officials previously said it will be six to nine months before a factual report and up to a year before a probable cause and final report to be completed in the crash.

Major held a private pilot certification that was reissued May 24 with ratings for single-engine and multi-engine planes as well as instrument airplanes, according to records with the Federal Aviation Administration. Major’s certificate was issued May 24.

Piuma also held a student pilot certification issued March 14, according to FAA records.

The plane was registered to Major Aviation LLC., based in Lewes, Delaware, according to an FAA registry. It was manufactured in 1968 and had a valid certificate.

The plane struck a 50-foot tall utility pole and left about 200 people in the immediate area without power, but crews restored it later that night, according to officials with Horry Electric Cooperative.

Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723 or follow her at

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