Fatal Private Jet Crash Killed Gwen Shamblin and Six Others; Investigation Reveals Husband's Fault

Dani Sanders
Gwen Shamblin
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The National Transportation Safety Board has released its final report on the fatal private jet crash that claimed the lives of Gwen Shamblin Lara, her husband, and six others. The report revealed that the crash was caused by disorientation on the part of Shamblin's husband, who was piloting the Cessna C501 aircraft at the time. The aircraft was registered under Shamblin Lara and her husband's company JL&GL Productions, LP.

Final Report Released 

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The National Transportation Safety Board has released its final report nearly two years after the fatal private jet crash that killed diet guru turned cult leader Gwen Shamblin and six others. 

Crash Caused By?

The report reveals that the crash was caused by disorientation by Shamblin's husband, who was piloting the Cessna C501 aircraft at the time. 

Incident Took Place Two Years Ago 

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The incident occurred on March 29, 2021, just minutes after takeoff from Tennessee's Percy Priest Lake at around 11 am.

The Pilot Was Joe Lara 


According to the National Transportation Safety Board, Joe Lara, Gwen Shamblin's spouse, was the private jet's pilot during the crash. 

Lara Became Disoriented 

The board had determined that Lara became disoriented and mistakenly believed he was pitching the aircraft upwards when descending toward the ground. 

Jet Was En Route To Palm Beach 


The jet had departed from Smyrna Rutherford County Airport and was en route to Palm Beach International Airport before the tragic incident occurred.

Fatalities In The Crash 


The fatal crash on March 29, 2021, claimed the lives of Gwen Shamblin and her spouse Joe Lara, her son-in-law Brandon Hannah, and church leaders David and Jennifer Martin and Jessica and Jonathan Walters.

What Did The Flight Track Data Reveal?

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The National Transportation Safety Board's final report on the incident revealed that flight track data indicated the Cessna C501 aircraft had made multiple heading changes, climbs, and descents before entering a steep left turn that ultimately led to the crash.

Somatogravic Illusion

According to the report, the aircraft's maneuvers leading up to the crash were consistent with spatial disorientation known as somatogravic illusion. 

Illusion Caused Disorientation Of The Pilot 

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This illusion likely caused the pilot to mistakenly perceive that the airplane was pitching upwards when it was actually in a continuous descent. 

When Does The Illusion Occur? 

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Such disorientation occurs particularly in poor visibility situations, where pilots cannot see the horizon and must rely solely on the airplane's instruments to maintain safe flight.

What Kind Of A Pilot Was Lara 

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William Lardent, a local flight instructor who had flown with Joe Lara in the same aircraft that crashed, stated that Lara was a generally safe pilot but had difficulty multitasking and maintaining situational awareness. 

Lara Struggled With Somethings 

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Lardent informed investigators that Lara was qualified to fly using instruments only but struggled when relying on instruments during poor visibility and while utilizing the plane's autopilot.

Lara Had Difficulty With Visualizing The Plane’s Location 

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An NTSB account of the interview with William Lardent, the flight instructor who had flown with Joe Lara, stated that Lara had difficulty mentally visualizing the airplane's location in time and space unless he could see it on his iPad.

Lara Wanted To Fly To Larger Cities 

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The interview also disclosed that Lara had expressed a desire to fly to larger cities such as New York and Las Vegas, but Lardent had cautioned him that he still needed to prepare for such congested areas.

Lara Needed To Be ‘On His Game’ 

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According to the report, during the interview, the flight instructor advised Joe Lara that he "had to be on his game" to operate safely in the fast-moving environments of larger cities such as New York and Las Vegas. 

Witnesses To The Crash 

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Witnesses to the crash included a fisherman who reported hearing what he believed to be a low-flying military jet before seeing the aircraft crash into the lake in a "straight down" attitude, with the nose of the plane hitting the water first.

No Mechanical Malfunctions 

After conducting a post-accident examination of the wreckage, investigators found no apparent mechanical malfunctions with the aircraft.

Moreover, they concluded that it was improbable that any medical condition of the pilot or co-pilot had contributed to the crash.

Hannah’s Text Message 

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According to WTVF, Elizabeth Hannah, the daughter of Gwen Shamblin Lara and wife of one of the crash victims, sent an internal text message to families of the church, claiming that the plane had to go down for a "controlled, quick landing."