Plane Crash That Killed Christian Diet Guru Gwen Shamblin Caused By 'Spatial Disorientation' of Pilot Husband
Gwen Shamblin Lara and six others were killed in a 2021 plane crash, which likely occurred after her husband became disoriented in the clouds while flying, the NTSB wrote in a final report
A 2021 plane crash that killed Christian diet guru Gwen Shamblin Lara and six others likely took place after her husband, who was piloting the aircraft, became disoriented in the clouds, according to a final report from the National Transportation Safety Board.
Shamblin Lara, the weight-loss champion turned religious leader who was the subject of a 2021 HBO Max Docuseries, and her husband, Tarzan actor Joe Lara, were headed to Palm Beach, Florida, when the plane took off from a Tennessee airport on May 29, 2021. Minutes later, the aircraft crashed into Percy Priest Lake, killing all seven aboard.
Flight tracking data showed that after entering the clouds, the aircraft "made a series of heading changes, along with several several climbs and descents, before it entered a steep, descending left turn," according to the report, which was obtained by PEOPLE.
NTSB officials said in the report that this occurred after the pilot entered the clouds and became disoriented.
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The pilot's maneuvering "was consistent with the onset of a type of spatial disorientation known as somatogravic illusion," the report stated.
The NTSB said that as a result of this, the "accelerations associated with the airplane's increasing airspeed were likely perceived by the pilot as the airplane pitching up" when it was actually "in a continuous descent."
Additionally, the report noted that Lara "likely did not effectively use his instrumentation during takeoff and climb."
Another pilot, who had flown with Lara on numerous occasions, told investigators in an interview that Lara relied on an iPad to understand his "time in space," per the report.
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A witness who was fishing at the Tennessee lake at the time of the crash said that before he saw the plane he "heard what he thought was a low flying military jet," the report stated.
He then saw the aircraft hit the lake "straight down," with the "nose of the airplane impacting the water first."
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The NTSB wrote in the report that the wreckage showed "no evidence" of an "mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation."
Additionally, they said that it was "unlikely" that a medical condition played a factor in the crash.
Ultimately, they determined that the probable cause was "the pilot's loss of airplane control during climb due to spatial disorientation."
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Also on board at the time of the crash were Jennifer J. Martin, David L. Martin, Jessica Walters, Jonathan Walters and Brandon Hannah (the husband of Shamblin Lara's daughter Elizabeth Shamblin Hannah).
They were all members of Shamblin Lara's church, the Remnant Fellowship.
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