Cargo Plane Pilot Dies In Crash Near Centennial Airport

Aircraft Wreckage Found after 4-Hour Search

Search crews found the wreckage of a plane that crashed near Centennial Airport early Thursday morning and said the pilot did not survive.

This is a previous photo of the plane that crashed, sitting on the tarmac at Centennial Airport. (Used with permission)

The aircraft is a 1981 turboprop Mitsubishi MU-2 cargo plane, according to authorities.

The plane was attempting an instruments approach landing about 2 a.m. and disappeared from radar while descending the airport.

A Denver Police Department helicopter spotted the wreckage at about 6:45 a.m., about 4 miles south of the airport. Recovery crews reached the location a short time later, using ATVs.

Except for the tail and one engine, the plane was "pretty much smashed to bits," said Andy Lyon of South Metro Fire Rescue.

Heavy rain created muddy conditions that hampered efforts to locate the aircraft.

"The terrain itself is rugged -- lots of gullies and scrub oak -- but also it's very wet and our air support has very low visibility," said Becky O'Guin, a public information officer for the Parker Fire District.

The crash site is just west of the construction of Hess Reservoir, south of Lincoln and east of Interstate 25.

Rescuers used a Snowcat to ferry a coroner and accident investigator to the remote location after other rescue vehicles became stuck in mud leading to the crash site.

Only the pilot was aboard the aircraft, authorities told 7News.

The plane is registered to Flight Line, Inc. in Watkins, Colo., according to aircraft records obtained by TheDenverChannel. A plane owned by the same company crashed last December near Centennial Airport, killing two people.

Flightline officials declined comment on the crash. The plane was on a flight from Salt Lake City and was carrying canceled checks.

Mitsubishi MU-2 cargo planes are used by businesses for light cargo and typically carry a crew of two.

Including Thursday's crash, that model of aircraft has been involved in 27 accidents in the past 25 years in the U.S., including 19 fatal crashes that killed a total of 55 people, according to National Transportation Safety Board records.

Five of the accidents were in Colorado. Three of those resulted in the deaths of nine people.

South Dakota Gov. George Mickelson and seven others were killed in April 1993 when their Mitsubishi MU-2B-60 crashed in Zwingle, Iowa.

At the request of the NTSB, Mitsubishi dispatched its accident investigation team to Denver Thursday to help in the current investigation. The company said the team's role is to assist the NTSB in locating and identifying components and systems of the aircraft.

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