Report Released on Plane Crash that Killed Remnant Fellowship Church Leaders

photo from Rutherford County

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released its official report on the May 2021 small jet crash in La Vergne, TN that killed seven individuals, many were leaders of Remnant Fellowship Church in Brentwood.

At 10:53 a.m. on May 29, a 1982 CESSNA 501 departed Smyrna Airport heading toward Palm Beach International. Shortly after take-off, the small jet crashed into Percy Priest Lake.

All passengers and the pilot died in the crash. On board were William J. Lara, Gwen S. Lara, Jennifer J. Martin, David L. Martin, Jessica Walters, Jonathan Walters, and Brandon Hannah all of Brentwood, Tennessee.

Many of those aboard the plane were leaders at Remnant Fellowship Church in Brentwood, including Gwen Shamblin Lara, the founder of the Remnant Fellowship Church and Christian diet program the Weight Down Workshop.

WKRN shared the NTSB report, which concludes the pilot lost control of the airplane due to spatial disorientation.

The report states that:

“Flight track data revealed that after takeoff, the airplane entered the clouds and made a series of heading changes, along with several climbs and descents, before it entered a steep, descending left turn. This type of maneuvering was consistent with the onset of a type of spatial disorientation known as somatogravic illusion. According to a National Transportation Safety Board performance study, accelerations associated with the airplane’s increasing airspeed were likely perceived by the pilot as the airplane pitching up although it was in a continuous descent. This occurred because the pilot was experiencing spatial disorientation and he likely did not effectively use his instrumentation during takeoff and climb.”

“As a result of these pitch and roll motions, and changes in acceleration/deceleration, a pilot’s vestibular system, which allows the inner ear to have a sense of balance and spatial
orientation, can get disrupted and is unable to distinguish between load factors due to motion versus load factors due to gravity. On its own, the inner ear cannot differentiate between accelerations and tilt. Additional sensory inputs, such as visual cues, are needed to correctly perceive attitude and acceleration. When a pilot misperceives attitude and acceleration it is known as ‘somatogravic illusion’ and can cause spatial disorientation.”

When communicating with air traffic control, the pilot initially responded to the controller’s instructions but follow-up instructions did not receive a reply:

“The airplane departed about 1053:06 and made a climbing right turn to the east and was
instructed to contact Nashville departure control. About 1054:27, when the airplane was about 3 miles north of the airport, a departure controller contacted the airplane and asked if they were ‘on frequency.’ The pilot responded and said, “N66BK with you.” The controller then instructed the pilot to turn right heading 130°; however, the pilot did not acknowledge. About 1054:46, the controller asked the pilot if he copied the heading instruction. The pilot responded about 4 seconds later and said, “130…Bravo Kilo.”
About 1055:11, the controller instructed N66BK to climb and maintain 15,000 ft msl, but there was no response from the pilot. The controller then made multiple attempts to re-establish communications with the flight; however, there were no further responses. ”

After the crash, some family members issued statements.

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