The private airplane that went missing shortly after takeoff from Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport last month likely crashed into the Mississippi Sound, killing its three occupants, according to preliminary findings released on Thursday by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The report said the plane is "presumed destroyed after it impacted the Mississippi Sound in the vicinity of Pascagoula" on Oct. 26.
It also notes the plane, a Lancair Super ES, was an "experimental, amateur-built aircraft."
Malcolm MacHauer, a retired private pilot, said Lancair planes are often sold in kits, meaning the pilot "probably built it himself."
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The pilot, Ronald Gregory of Monroe, La., recorded 4,441 hours of total flight experience, according to the NTSB report.
"That is a lot of hours," MacHauer said. "The guy was definitely experienced."
Gregory did not file a flight plan, which is normal for private flights, though pilots are encouraged to file a flight plan whenever facing bad weather or flying at night, MacHauer said.
The NTSB report makes note of the bad weather, saying there was scattered clouds, light rain and wind gusts at 25 knots.
"In addition, there were active weather advisors for convective activity and instrument meteorological conditions for the area around the airplane's last known position," the report said.
The number found on the plane's tail wing, N817PR, was "not an active registration," the report noted, and "a pilot operating handbook with the registration N808PX was located among the debris."
According to the NTSB, one of Gregory's family members confirmed the plane was previously registered as N808PX.
The pilot and the plane's two passengers, Dexter Brewer and Gerald Miletello, are all presumed dead.