NASCAR & Auto Racing

Pilot planned emergency landing

A pilot of a NASCAR plane was planning an emergency landing due to smoke in the cockpit seconds before communications cut off and the aircraft crashed, killing five people, a newspaper reported Friday.

"Zero One November declaring an emergency. We need ?smoke in the cockpit ?we need to land at Sanford," said one of two men aboard the Cessna 310, according to a recording obtained by The Daytona Beach News-Journal. "Zero One November" refers to the plane's tail number.

The man then said, "Zero One November, we're going to shut off all radios and elec?" before communications cut out, according to the recording obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Air traffic controllers in Orlando responded with "Roger, you can land any runway at Sanford. They know you're coming." It's not clear if the men, Michael Klemm and Dr. Bruce Kennedy, heard the response.

About three minutes elapsed between the plane's last radio communication and the first 911 calls reporting the crash, the newspaper reported.

The recording confirmed witness accounts that the plane was smoking as it plunged to the ground, which were detailed in a preliminary report by federal investigators.

The National Transportation Safety Board has not yet determined which man was piloting when the plane crashed July 10. A final ruling on what caused the crash is not expected until next year.

NTSB investigators have sent electrical components from the cockpit to the agency's Washington lab for more examination.

Kennedy, the husband of International Speedway Corp. president Lesa France Kennedy, and Klemm, a NASCAR Aviation pilot, died when the plane crashed into two houses. Kennedy had a pilot's license and was authorized to fly the plane only when accompanied by Klemm, according to the preliminary NTSB report.

The crash ignited a blaze that killed three people in the houses. Three other people were injured.

The plane was traveling from Daytona Beach to Lakeland, a 100-mile trip.