Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Two dead in airplane found in Texas as search ends for airplane that dropped off radar while en route to Norman from Abilene

Thomas Cooper, Getty Images

ABILENE, Texas -- Authorities have identified the two people who died Monday night in a plane that left Abilene and crashed near Albany.

Officials have confirmed that Dale Leighroy Phillips, a licensed pilot for single-engine aircraft, and Amy Wilson Clay were the victims. Sources indicated they both work at a physical therapy organization in Abilene.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said the wreckage of the single-engine Piper Comanche was discovered on a ranch about six miles northwest of Albany.

Shackelford County Sheriff Edward Miller said officials searched for the wreckage in rough terrain until 4 a.m., then resumed the search at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

A wing of the plane was found about 9:20 a.m. about a mile from where the plane lost radar contact.

About an hour later Tuesday morning, the fuselage of the plane was discovered about three-quarters of a mile from the wing. Officials said debris from the wreckage was scattered widely across rugged terrain.

Planes and helicopters were used to find the wreckage, approximately 35 miles northeast of Abilene.

The Department of Public Safety has confirmed that the Federal Aviation Administration is on the scene and has taken over the lead in the investigation.

Lynn Lunsford with the Federal Aviation Administration told the Associated Press that a single-engine Piper Comanche departed from Abilene and was en route to Norman, Okla., when it lost contact about 7:30 p.m. Monday night somewhere near Albany.

He said the FAA was working with local authorities to determine what happened to the craft.

Sources told KTXS News that there were high winds in the area below 3,000 feet at 7 p.m. Monday night.

An FAA database indicates the plane is registered to Baga Air Inc. of Wilmington, Del. Public phone records had no listing for the company.

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