Jet crashes on landing at Aspen, Colorado, airport, killing 1

Posted at 2:44 PM, Jan 05, 2014

By Alan Duke, CNN.

(CNN) — A small plane crashed while trying to land at the Aspen, Colorado, airport Sunday, killing the co-pilot and injuring two others aboard, said Alex Burchetta with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.

Witnesses described a fiery scene as the plane flipped over and became engulfed in flames.

Photos showed the plane upside down on the tarmac, its fuselage charred.

The pilot of the twin-engine jet earlier reported high winds during a previous attempt to land, according to a recording of the air traffic control radio transmission obtained by CNN through Flightaware, a flight-tracking website.

“Missed approach, N115WF. 33 knots of tail wind,” the pilot is heard saying a few minutes before the crash.

The deceased co-pilot was identified by Burchetta as 54-year-old Sergio Carranza Brabata of Mexico. Pitkin County Coroner Dr. J. Steven Ayers listed the preliminary cause of death as blunt force trauma.

The injured — the pilot and another co-pilot flying as a passenger — were transported to a local hospital with “moderate to severe injuries” as a result of the impact of the crash, Burchetta said. Aspen Valley Hospital spokeswoman Ginny Dyche told CNN the men would be transferred to another facility in Colorado to receive a higher level of treatment.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team of investigators to the scene to begin the crash probe, NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson told CNN Sunday.

Two celebrities, who were at the small airport in the Aspen ski resort area, posted Twitter messages saying they witnessed the crash.

“So sad! Horrible plane crash we just saw happen at the Aspen airport,” singer LeAnn Rimes tweeted.

Comedian Kevin Nealon tweeted: “Horrible plane crash here at Aspen airport. Exploded into flames as it was landing. I think it was a private jet. Fire truck and ambulances were on the scene within minutes.”

Burchetta said the cause of the crash is under investigation.

“Right now, we have no indication that there was anything wrong prior to landing,” Burchetta said.

FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the Bombardier Challenger 600 that was coming from Tucson, Arizona. The plane originated from Toluca, Mexico, roughly 40 miles west of Mexico City, according to Flightaware.

The Aspen airport is known as a challenging place for pilots to land because of the mountains that surround the runway. The airport tarmac is often filled with private planes owned or chartered by the wealthy and famous who own vacation homes in the mountain resort community.

“Airport is closed now,” Nealon tweeted. “I think I’ll drive back to LA after seeing that.”

CNN’s Aaron Cooper, AnneClaire Stapleton, Janet DiGiacomo and Scott Thompson contributed to this report.
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