News Plane Crashes — 31 May 2013

PHOENIX — Four people were killed after two single-engine planes apparently collided Friday north of Phoenix.

A pilot reported seeing two small aircraft collide in midair about 15 miles west-northwest of Deer Valley Airport, according to preliminary reports from the Federal Aviation Administration. The agency said it received reports of one of the downed planes at 10 a.m. MST Friday.

Several bystanders reported seeing the planes collide but the flight directions of the planes before the crash or other details weren’t immediately available, officials said.

“Both of them collided. We don’t know how or what,” said Phoenix Fire Department Capt. Larry Nunez. “The skies are clear.”

Circumstances of the crash are under investigation, said Capt. Dave Wilson of the Daisy Mountain Fire Department.

Phoenix fire crews went to the area and found the two planes. One plane apparently had caught fire and was destroyed. The other craft, a Piper Archer, was mostly intact.

Authorities found four people dead.

“I thought possibly we might have survivors,” said battalion Chief Gary Bernard of the Peoria Fire Department.

According to Capt. Darren Salotti of the Daisy Mountain Fire Department, the mostly intact aircraft looked like it tried to land. Both occupants of that plane were confirmed dead. The identities of the victims have not been released.

Deer Valley Airport is one of the busiest general aviation airports in the country and has more than 1,200 planes based there.

It has a fueling station, avionics repair, aircraft rentals, new and used aircraft sales, a pilot shop, a restaurant, charter flights and two flight-training schools — one at Westwind School of Aeronautics and TransPac Aviation Academy.

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One of the downed planes was registered to Bird Acquisition LLC, which does business as TransPac Aviation Academy. The business said Friday that it was still gathering information about the crash and declined to comment.

Federal investigators were en route to the scene of the collision, but the National Transportation Safety Board typically takes several months to determine a probable cause for air accidents, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.

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