Plane crash claims Ahoskie native

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 1, 2007

CHARLOTTE – Although the bodies have yet to be identified, Shelby (NC) real estate appraiser Jim Chitty, his wife and two sons were believed dead after a small plane crashed in a Charlotte neighborhood Sunday morning.

Jim Chitty, 53, is a native of Ahoskie, the son of Marie and the late Frank Chitty. Jim graduated from Ahoskie High School in 1971.

Four people were on the plane when it left Manteo for Shelby, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. There were no survivors.

The plane was registered to Chitty, according to National Transportation and Safety Board public affairs spokesman Ted Lopatkiewicz. According to Kathleen Bergin of the FAA, a flight plan listed a pilot and three passengers.

According to family members, Chitty, his wife Kay and sons Taylor and Jay were on the Cessna TR182 when it left Manteo. Chitty was returning to Shelby after a family visit. He and his wife were scheduled to have dinner with friends in Shelby Sunday night.

Chitty, the owner of J. F. Chitty III & Associates in Shelby, was an avid pilot and a member of the Shelby Municipal Airport Advisory Board. Mrs. Chitty was a math instructor at Cleveland Community College. They were the parents of three children.

The couple’s daughter, Haley, who works with Campus Crusade for Christ at the University of Tennessee, was not on the plane. Donna Suttle, a family friend, said that her daughter, Logan, as well as two friends, headed to Greensboro to pick-up Haley from the Christian group’s convention there. Mrs. Suttle said Haley had been informed of the crash.

The Chittys’ son, Jay, was a senior tennis player at Davidson University. Their youngest son, Taylor, was an eighth-grader at Shelby Middle School.

Chuck Greene, who had given Chitty flight instruction, said Chitty was instrument rated, which means the pilot is experienced enough to fly in clouds and fog using the plane’s instrumentation in limited visibility.

Harry Blanton, Chitty’s college roommate at the University of North Carolina, said he and his daughter had flown with Chitty to a football game five weeks earlier.

“He always seemed to be fun-loving and upbeat,” remembered Blanton. “We used to have a good time.”

The crash happened at 11:30 a.m. in a west Charlotte neighborhood just off Wilkinson Boulevard on Carlyle Road. No injuries were reported on the ground, but homes were without power.

“It sounded like a bomb,” said John Feely, a resident of Carlyle Road. “It was louder than anything I’ve ever heard before.”

Debris from the crash was littered across the neighborhood, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fire Department Capt. Rob Brisley. While authorities on the scene did note traces of fuel, there was no fire associated with the crash.

At least a half-dozen people near the scene of the crash were temporarily displaced and many planned to stay with family members, he said. The American Red Cross was at the scene.

The single-engine Cessna’s engine was embedded in the backside of one house, while debris from the plane was left in trees and on roads, Brisley said.

At least two of the neighborhood’s single-story brick homes suffered structural damage while the rest of the damage to a few homes was “very minor,” he said.

Brisley said the crash initially cut power to about 40 homes, but most had power restored by late afternoon Sunday.

According to AccuWeather meteorologist Ken Reeves, weather conditions Sunday in Charlotte around 11:30 a.m. were wet. It was raining moderately with some fog at 52 degrees. Winds were moving at 5 mph. There was a 500-foot cloud ceiling and less than a mile of visibility.

(Editor’s note: This article is reprinted with permission of The Shelby Star.)