ROSTRAVER (KDKA) – One person was killed when a small plane went down and burst into flames at the Rostraver Airport Wednesday afternoon.
The Westmoreland County Coroner’s Office has identified the victim as 42-year-old John Graham III of Jefferson Hills. Graham was the president and CEO of Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics.
According to emergency dispatchers, the initial report about the incident came in around 2:30 p.m.
The view from NewsChopper 2 showed only charred wreckage left of the vintage 1940’s Howard aircraft in a wooded area.
Officials say Graham was doing touch-and-go landings when something happened on approach. The aircraft was over the center line of the runway when it veered sharply left and went over the hill.
After it went down, it burst into flames.
“We had a single engine aircraft practicing touch-and-goes on the runway, somehow lost control of the aircraft, made a hard left… went down over the embankment and there was a fire upon the crash,” said Gabe Monzo, of the Westmoreland County Airport Authority.
The flames also caused brush fire concerns and crews worked to keep that under control.
Firefighters on scene of plane crash fire is under control reports of at least one fatality.
— Ross Guidotti (@RossGuidotti) April 12, 2017
The cause of the crash remains unknown.
“We’ve been involved with a lot of these through the years and you hate to see this kind of thing,” said Monzo. “It’s tough on everybody, tough on the aviation community. So, we’ll get through it and see what we can find out.”
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will be called in to investigate.
The Rostraver Airport remains closed.
Meanwhile, an autopsy has been scheduled for Thursday.