A man and a woman died when a small propeller plane crashed as it took off from the Wheeler Downtown Airport Sunday afternoon.
Authorities said the single-engine Mooney airplane was leaving the airport about 2:45 p. m. when it crashed on the south side of the levee about a quarter-mile from the runway.
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Lynn Lunsford, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, says the pilot reported engine trouble shortly after departing the airport. He says the plane crashed about a quarter mile from the airport. FAA records show the plane was registered to Air McRoyal, of Youngstown, Ohio.
Lunsford says investigators were headed to the scene.
Navarrio Smith saw the crash from Ermine Case Jr. Park, where he had been watching planes.
“It turned like it was going back for a landing,” said Smith, a Kansas City resident.
He said he saw the plane’s wheels but heard its engines go quiet. It then crossed back north over the Missouri River heading for the runway.
“It just dropped,” Smith said. “There was no smoke, no boom, no fire.”
Charles Hamilton said he heard an airplane sputter as he drove north on the Broadway Bridge just after 2:30 p.m. Hamilton looked in his rear view mirror and saw the single-engine plane near the Wheeler Airport. Minutes later, Hamilton said he arrived in Riverside and heard media reports that the plane had crashed.
“It sounded like he was running out of gas and it sped up to take off,” Hamilton said. “It’s a shame.”
Rescuers found the airplane on its belly between the levee and the river with its wings still attached and no sign a fire. The man and a woman were dead inside, police spokesman, Capt. Tye Grant, said. Their names were not immediately released.
Police closed the road around the airport as they began investigating the crash.