NTSB releases preliminary report on plane crash that killed 2 Navy men

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – News4JAX obtained the National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report on Friday into the Dec. 26 Westside plane crash that killed a Navy sailor and a veteran.

According to the report, the Mooney M20J went into a spin and was almost vertical when it crashed. The plane took off from Herlong Airport and was seen on airport surveillance video making a low-level approach with its landing gear down.

A witness in Herlong told investigators that the Mooney flew slowly and barely climbed on a sharp angle. The witness said the engine sounded normal and there was no rattling or crackling.

The plane’s landing gear retracted, but the baggage door opened upwards and appeared to “resemble a sail” above the plane, the report said.

A pilot, also in the air over Herlong, saw the Mooney climb 200 to 400 feet, but then the right wing dropped and the plane ‘appeared to go into a spin’, and was ‘almost vertical’ when the spiral ended with the crash.

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Arron Sterling, 56, and Louis Pasderetz, 27, died in the crash.

Sterling was the owner of Sterling Silver Flyers, LLC. According to public records, he had run the company for four years.

Arron Sterling in uniform (The Sterling Family)

According to his family, Sterling served in the United States Navy for 28 years and retired in 2011 as a lieutenant commander. His naval career began when he was 18 years old. He will become a chief and become an officer after 12 years.

Sterling’s life journey took him to Jacksonville two years ago to work as a project engineer at Naval Base Mayport.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Louis Pasderetz also served in the Navy with Marine Attack Helicopter Squadron 60 in Jacksonville. He was 27 years old.

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His hometown was Palos Hills, Illinois, but he had made friends along the eastern seaboard, including North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida.

Outside of the military, he enjoyed truck racing and was the “Super Trucks Division Champion” for military competitions at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va. in 2020.

Louis-Charles Pasderetz, 27 years old

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