Gwen Shamblin Plane Crash: What Caused the Tragic Accident?

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Gwen Shamblin Lara rose to popularity as a diet guru and the founder of a religious group. However, she died during a tragic plane crash in 2021, along with six others. Gwen was 66 at the time of her death. The popular HBO documentary The Way Down: God, Greed and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin explores the “fame and power” of the diet guru and church leader. It also details the Remnant Fellowship Church’s controversial practices, of which Gwen was the founder. Emmy Award winner Marina Zenovich directed the 2021 docuseries.

Per CNN, Cessna 501 took flight from the Smyrna airport in Tennessee on May 29, 2021, and was headed to Palm Beach, Florida. Minutes after taking off, the aircraft crashed into Percy Priest Lake. The tragic accident killed everyone onboard, including Gwen, her husband, Joe Lara, and her son-in-law, Brandon Hannah. The others who died were married couples, Jessica and Jonathan Walters, as well as Jennifer and David Martin.

Per People Magazine, a report from the National Transportation Safety Board noted that the plane crash was caused after the pilot became disoriented in the clouds. Gwen’s husband, Joe Lara, was flying the aircraft. The flight tracking data noted that Cessna 501 “made a series of heading changes.” Following takeoff, the aircraft made “several climbs and descents,” and then it “entered a steep, descending left turn.” According to the report, somatogravic illusion, a type of spatial disorientation, caused the pilot’s maneuvering.

The NTSB explained that due to the above, the pilot likely perceived the “accelerations associated with the airplane’s increasing airspeed” as “the airplane pitching up.” However, they were actually “in a continuous descent.” The report also noted that Lara may have not “effectively used his instrumentation” during the aircraft’s takeoff and climb.

According to People Magazine, a witness at the lake saw the aircraft crash “straight down.” He added that the plane’s “nose impacted the water first.”

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