MADRAS, Ore. (CBS/AP) — One person died in a small plane crash in an Oregon canyon on Saturday afternoon.
A home-built, fixed-wing, single-engine Wheeler Express — plane registered to a Menlo Park man — crashed at about 2 p.m. Saturday in Willow Creek Canyon, federal aviation and central Oregon emergency management officials said.
FAA spokesman Keith Holloway said Rich’s plane went down about 1.5 miles south of Madras Municipal Airport. The plane crashed on approach, Holloway said.
Officials originally reported that two people died in the Saturday-afternoon crash, but Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins said Sunday that investigators have determined that only the pilot was aboard the homemade aircraft that crashed near the airport in the town where many people are gathering to view the solar eclipse.
About 200,000 people were expected in the area that’s considered a prime viewing spot as the moon completely blots out the sun.
The aircraft was completely destroyed and had been engulfed by fire.
The flames started a small fire that was quickly extinguished.
Adkins says further investigation and statements obtained from family and friends indicated the pilot was alone at the time of the crash.
The plane was registered to a Menlo Park man and it took off from the San Carlos airport at about 11 a.m. Saturday.
The amateur-built plane is registered to Mark Rich, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.
“I heard the plane coming in and I heard it sputtering some — which is not uncommon, we hear it quite often — so I didn’t really think much about it and then, a few seconds later, I heard the impact,” Madras resident Michele Quinn told KOIN-TV.
No one from the Jefferson County medical examiner’s office was immediately available to say who died in the crash.
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the crash.
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