ROSTRAVER TOWNSHIP, Pa. — A 42-year-old man was killed Wednesday in a small-plane crash near Rostraver Airport in Westmoreland County.
The pilot was practicing a maneuver called touch-and-goes around 2:45 p.m. when he veered to the left and crashed down an embankment. The plane burst into flames and came to rest nearly 250 feet into the woods.
"Just heard a big boom and heard a whole bunch of sirens,” said Peter Johnson. “Then me and my dad came up. I was on the runway; you couldn't see anything. All you could see was the smoke."
The pilot has been identified as John Graham III, of Jefferson Hills. Channel 11 spoke to other pilots who said they knew him and said it was an emotional day at the airport.
“It’s always tough,” said Gabe Monzo, Rostraver Airport director. “We have been involved with a lot of these through the years. Tough on everybody on the aviation community.”
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Graham was the president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE reported.
The wreckage was searched to ensure there wasn’t a passenger, but investigators determined that Graham was flying solo in the 1940s Howard airplane. An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday.
Agents with the Federal Aviation Administration spent several hours at the crash site Wednesday and will return Thursday to resume their investigation.
Cox Media Group