PRINEVILLE, Ore. - A 47-year-old pilot from Crooked River Ranch was killed in the crash of a small plane late Sunday morning northeast of Prineville Airport, authorities said Monday.
Prineville police Capt. Michael Boyd identified the pilot as Murray Allen Crowe of Terrebonne; FAA records indicate he lived in Crooked River Ranch and was owner of the experimental-category Challenger II light sport aircraft.
The crash was reported shortly after 11:30 a.m. near the Bend Tarp and Liner facilty on Tom McCall Road.
Prineville police, Crook County sheriff's deputies, Crook County Fire & Rescue and Oregon State Police responded to the scene, near Highway 126. The pilot died at the scene, said police Sgt. Jimmy O'Daniel, withholding the name pending notification of family.
Fire crews helped secured the scene and remove the pilot from the wreckage, said Fire Marshal Casey Kump.
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are sending representatives to assist in the investigation, O'Daniel said.
FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said the plane that crashed was a Challenger II, categorized as an experimental, light sport aircraft and typically built as a kit. It can cruise at up to 95 mph and costs about $13,000 to $16,000, excluding the engine and propeller. (More info at http://www.quadcitychallenger.com/qc-mods.html)
A sport pilot designation, created nearly a decade ago, requires fewer hours of training to earn and was designed to lower the barriers to recreational flying.
Prineville resident Sheena Hook told NewsChannel 21 she was returning from Redmond, driving east on Highway 126, when she noticed the plane shortly before the crash -- and now believes it was clear something had gone terribly wrong.
"I saw it on my left," Hook said. "I saw this plane, and the back, the tail of the plane was spinning. I thought it was really weird that the tail was spinning. I thought, what kind of plane is that?"
"I didn't think anything of it -- then it nose-dived. I saw it hit the ground, and a lot of dirt and stuff flew up in the air. It happened pretty quick. I thought it was heading toward the airport."
Hook said she called 911 and was told they were also getting other calls and already sending first responders. She said she had pulled over and considered going to help but saw numerous people already running toward the scene.