A small plane crashed at Casa Grande Municipal Airport in Arizona, according to officials the twin engine turbo prop Beechcraft King Air, was destroy by fire in Wednesday crash. Medical examiners on Thursday were working to identify at least two
“It is still unclear how many people were in the Beechcraft King Air, a twin-engine turbo-prop plane that crashed shortly after 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, just north of the runway.”
The Pinal County Medical Examiner’s Office officially identified the victims Friday as 51-year-old Stephen J. Stafford of Green Valley and 65-year-old Del V. Steinbronn of Tucson. According to authorities, Stafford was a certified flight instructor with several years of flying experience. Steinbronn was a retired private practice urologist who had also been flying for years. Stafford’s fiancee, Sandra Komula of Green Valley, said he was a sales manager and consultant at Tucson Aeroservice Center.
The plane is registered to a Tuscon company, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.
An eyewitness said it looked like the plane flipped over during an attempted landing on the runway.
One witness apparently saw the plane, which looked like a six-seater, try to land on the runway when it kicked up and flipped over. Gary Couch, a retiree, was at the airport having coffee with friends when he heard the crash and saw the aftermath.
“We saw a lot of black smoke and a lot of flames,” Couch said. “You just feel sorry for the people in the plane.”
“I could just see the smoke billowing from something that had fallen,” said Charlie Barber just outside the airport.
“There was a large fireball and a lot of black smoke,” said Gary Couch, who was inside the airport at the time of the crash.
Another witness, who did not want to be named, reported hearing the aircraft’s engine, then not hearing it, moments before the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board will be the lead agency in the investigation, although it could take months to determine the cause of the crash, Gregor said.
The plane was flying from west to east as it began to land, Morgan said.
“The airplane made a sudden ascent and a sudden descent where it crashed,” Morgan said.
Authorities say Stafford was a certified flight instructor while Steinbronn was a retired private practice urologist. They say both men had many years of flight experience and died from injuries sustained from the crash’s impact.
A firefighter working outside a nearby fire station told investigators that as the plane approached the runway, it went straight up about 200 to 300 feet, made a sharp left turn and crashed.
Officials said several flight schools around Phoenix use the airport for training. The airport is often used as a halfway point between Tuscon and Phoenix. It does not have a control tower, so instrument landing rules are in effect.
Instructors and their students often practice touch and go drills, where they land and take off without coming to a full stop
The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration continue to investigate the cause of the crash. The investigation is expected to take anywhere from six to nine months.