LANSING, W.Va. (WAVY) — Three men from Chesapeake who had been close friends for decades were killed Sunday morning, when the single-engine plane one of them was piloting went down in heavy woods shortly after takeoff.
Federal investigators were on the scene Monday afternoon probing the crash in Fayette County, West Virginia, about 50 miles southeast of Charleston.
Killed in the crash were the pilot, Nicholas Fletcher, 38, Wesley Farley, 39, and Michael Taphouse, 36. Fletcher and Taphouse were brothers-in-law. Fletcher was piloting the single-engine Beech C23, a plane he co-owned. Family members said he was an experienced pilot and had flown the plane several times. According to the FlightAware database, Fletcher had piloted the plane 28 times in the past 90 days alone.
The three men had departed Chesapeake Regional Airport shortly after noon on Friday and arrived at New River Gorge Airport in Lansing about 2:30 p.m. They were on a whitewater rafting trip in the Upper Gauley River.
A family member told 10 On Your Side that Fletcher was concerned in a phone call over the weekend about clearing the trees on takeoff at New River Gorge Airport. A witness said he saw the plane taxi several times, take off and then disappear into thick woods not far from the airport.
When police arrived on the scene, they discovered three men inside the plane who had died. Officials said that the FAA and NTSB have assumed control of the investigation.
Fletcher and Farley each had two children. 10 On Your Side is working on getting more information about Taphouse.
Farley’s mother said Monday afternoon “he loved his family and had a heart of gold, and that his children were his world.”