Small Plane Crashes Shortly After Takeoff; No Survivors
TELLURIDE – Three Arizona residents died when their plane crashed Sunday morning after departing Telluride Regional Airport (TEX) at 11:20 a.m. for Cortez. The wreckage was found Sunday afternoon, reported San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters.
The victims are identified as Sherry and Sherman Anderson, 57 and 64, of Phoenix, Ariz. They have one daughter. Both Andersons were commercial airline pilots. Also killed was Eric Durban, 48, from Mesa, Ariz., who leaves behind his wife, Angela, and two children. Durban was reported to be an accomplished former military pilot.
The three belonged to the Arizona Cloudbusters Flying Club, based in Phoenix.
The aircraft took off "in light snow, with one mile visibility and calm winds," according to the San Miguel County Sheriff's Office press release. The last communication with the pilot was with Telluride Air Traffic Control from the runway at takeoff; Federal Aviation Administration officials reported losing radar contact with the plane shortly after its departure from TEX. Airport officials stopped outgoing flights after receiving the FAA report, to give search crews – including a San Miguel County-contracted helicopter, sheriff’s deputies and an aircraft from the Civil Air Patrol – adequate air space for the search. A focused search coordinated by the SMSO began Sunday at approximately 12:40 p.m., with search crews receiving signals from the aircraft’s electronic location transmission system, Masters reported mid-afternoon.
“Inclement weather was a factor” in the crash, Masters said Sunday. “This is certainly not the outcome we were hoping for; it’s just a terrible, terrible tragedy,” he said.
San Miguel Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue personnel began recovery operations Monday morning at 7 a.m.; recovery operations, which began at sunrise Monday morning were completed at 11a.m. just outside the Telluride Regional Airport. “We have recovered the victims, and they are being turned over to the San Miguel County Coroner, San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters said.
Nearly a dozen highly trained personnel, with the assistance of a contracted helicopter, performed the technical recovery mission. “The NTSB is expected to be on scene Tuesday for the recovery of the aircraft,” Masters said.The single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza was found crashed into a cliff band one mile west of the Telluride Regional Airport runway. San Miguel County Sheriff Deputies spotted the downed aircraft from a helicopter at 5:17 p.m. Sunday after a four-hour search.
“It’s a technical process, and given the precarious position of the aircraft, it will take some time,” Masters said Monday, of the recovery operation.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation and Safety Board are investigating the crash. For more information, contact the FAA directly at: 425-227-1389.