Video released showing Earnhardt's plane on runway seconds before crash

John Thompson • Sep 19, 2019 at 8:30 PM

ELIZABETHTON — A video taken by a security camera at Elizabethton Municipal Airport reveals some of the evidence studied by the National Transportation Safety Board when it released its preliminary report on the crash of the plane carrying the Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family on Aug. 15.

The preliminary report had stated that the right main landing gear of the Cessna Citation Latitude jet had collapsed and that is clearly shown in the video.

The video only shows the final seconds of the plane’s landing.

The plane quickly passes through the narrow area being monitored by the camera, but it shows the plane still has a lot of speed for that final section of the runway. It also shows sparks and smoke trailing from the area around the landing gear.

View the video

Once it passed through that section of the runway, the plane continued past the runway, going through a grassy area, crashing through the airport’s security fence, down a bank into a drainage channel, then up the other side of the bank before the plane came to rest with part of it blocking a lane of the Stoney Creek Highway.

There were no serious injuries in the crash.

Passengers on the plane were Dale Earnhardt Jr., his wife, Amy, 1-year-old daughter Isla, and the family’s dog. There were also two pilots, who escaped without injuries.

The plane was badly burned in the crash. The Earnhardts were on their way to a NASCAR race at Bristol Motor Speedway, where Earnhardt was scheduled to work on the broadcast of the race.

While the video shows the failed landing gear, it does not show the final seconds of the crash. The NTSB reviewed later moments of the crash from other security cameras from businesses and institutions around the area.

More than a month after the crash, there are still some signs of the plane crash, but those wounds are quickly being removed. About the only damage to the airport was the downed section of perimeter fencing and one runway light. Both are scheduled for replacement next week.

There is a new section of asphalt on the Stoney Creek Highway that repaired a section that had been damaged in the aircraft fire. The Tennessee Department of Transportation is currently preparing to repave a section of the highway.

The crash remains under investigation and the final report of the crash has yet to be published.