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Plane crashes in Arizona's Superstition Mountains
PHOENIX | Wed Nov 23, 2011 10:09pm EST
(Reuters) - A plane crashed on Wednesday in the Superstition Mountains just east of Phoenix, breaking apart on impact and igniting a wildfire, a sheriff's official said.
But the size of the plane and how many people were on board was not immediately clear, said Elias Johnson, a spokesman for the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, adding that fire crews had been dispatched.
Live images on local 12 News showed a fire blazing in a darkened landscape, surrounded by smaller points of flame. It was not possible to make out the shape or form of an aircraft or any debris.
Representatives for Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and the suburban Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport said none of their planes were missing.
A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration said he did not immediately have details on the crash. The Superstition Mountains are 45 miles east of Phoenix.
(Reporting by David Schwartz, Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis, Editing by Cynthia Johnston)
Pilot and his three children feared dead as plane crashes into Superstition Mountains in holiday tragedy By Daily Mail Reporter Last updated at 3:42 AM on 24th November 2011 A plane has crashed into Arizona's Superstition Mountains, breaking apart on impact, and bursting into flames in a tragic holiday accident. The pilot had been collecting his children and was returning home when the tiny two-engine plane crashed, CBS 5 reported. Two other adults were also on board, a spokesperson for Falcon Executive Aviation flight school in Mesa told the station.
Rescue crews are struggling to access the wreckage in rugged terrain to begin the search for possible survivors. Eyewitness Ronnie Brant told the local station the plane seemed to be having engine trouble. Pinal County Sheriff's Office spokesman Elias Johnson confirmed a plane went down in the mountain range, causing a fire seen from miles away. The plane burst into flames after colliding with the mountains, which are 45 miles east of Phoenix, just below their peak, witnesses reported. The Federal Aviation Administration said it had not yet received reports of a plane crash in the area. Rescue crews were trying to land helicopters in the mountainous area about 40 miles east of downtown Phoenix in order to search for survivors. Graham said 911 calls began coming in around 6.30 pm on Friday after an explosion near the Flat Iron area close to Lost Dutchman State Park.
A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said there were no immediate reports of any missing commercial aircraft. Officials at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport said the same thing.
"We don't know yet if it's a passenger plane or a crop duster," Pinal County sheriff's spokeswoman Angelique Graham said. "We can't tell the size of the aircraft involved from the air and we can't tell how many people may have been aboard."
Rescue crews were trying to land helicopters in the mountainous area about 40 miles east of downtown Phoenix in order to search for survivors.A law enforcement staging area was set up at the Lost Dutchman State Park.
However, a spokesperson with Falcon Executive Aviation flight school in Mesa tells CBS 5-TV in Phoenix that the pilot flew in from Safford to Falcon Field to pick up his children and says when they were returning to Safford the two-engine plane crashed. The spokesperson tells CBS 5 there were three adults and three children onboard.
The area near Lost Dutchman State Park and the Superstition Wilderness is filled with steep canyons, soaring rocky outcroppings, cactus and heavy brush. Treasure hunters who frequent the area have been looking for the legendary Lost Dutchman mine for more than a century.
A caller identified as Lou Adams told ABC-15 that he was camping in the mountains when he heard a loud noise, then saw a “fireball and a couple of pieces disappear behind the mountain,” apparently referring to Flatiron, in the Superstition range. “I could definitely see it fell out of the sky," he said.
“I heard an engine noise, like something that didn’t sound right. … That’s what drew my attention,” he told the station.
A plane has crashed into Arizona's Superstition Mountains, breaking apart on impact, and bursting into a huge fireball in a tragic holiday accident.
The pilot had been collecting his children and was returning home when the tiny two-engine plane crashed, CBS 5 reported.
Two other adults were also on board, a spokesperson for Falcon Executive Aviation flight school in Mesa told the station.
The pilot had flown into Falcon Field airport to pick up his children and was en route back home to Safford airfield, about 100 miles east of Phoenix, when he ran into trouble, the spokesman told the station.