SISTERS, Ore. — Three people were killed Monday when a kit-built high-performance airplane crashed on the east side of the Cascade Range in Central Oregon.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the circumstances of the morning crash were not immediately known, except that there were three people on board the single-engine Lancair IV-Propjet.
The Deschutes County sheriff’s office said all three were killed, and the wreckage spread over a large area near a logging road on the Deschutes National Forest south of Sisters.
Gary Olsen told KTVZ-TV that he saw black smoke coming from the plane and heard a sound like a sonic boom before the plane started falling, trailing debris.
Lancair International is based in Redmond, Ore. Marketing and sales director Doug Meyer said the Lancair IV-Propjet is a single-engine four-seater made from carbon fiber and capable of 350 mph. The model was designed in 1992 and there were about 600 sold as kits before it was replaced by another design several years ago.
Meyer said he spoke to a mountain biker who saw the crash and there was no obvious explanation for what witnesses have reported.
“Both pilots on board we are aware of were highly experienced professionals, not given to fool around,” he said. “Something very strange happened. These airplanes don’t come apart. They are very strong. They don’t suffer inflight failures. The engines are very reliable. This is a very sophisticated airplane. When you have good experienced pilots they are very safe.”
Meyer said the Propjet is considered an amateur-built experimental aircraft by the FAA and must be certified as airworthy before being allowed to fly.
FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the agency was investigating the crash along with the National Transportation Safety Board.