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Body and Wreckage Found in Plane Crash Near Brighton Beach

Updated: 06/09/2014 8:56 AM
Created: 06/07/2014 12:08 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

Authorities have found the body of the pilot and wreckage of the plane that crashed into Lake Superior near Duluth on Saturday. The Federal Aviation Administration identified the plane as a Lancair IV. A Lancair spokesperson said the owner may have been aware of maintenance issues with the plane.

The Coast Guard and St. Louis County Rescue Squad searched through heavy fog on Saturday to find any remnants of the single-engine plane that crashed near Brighton Beach.

Authorities said they found debris from the plane floating about a mile offshore. The St. Louis County Rescue Squad used sonar equipment to locate the wreckage 140 feet below the surface according to the St. Louis County Sheriff's Department.

“Then they dropped a remotely operated submersible vehicle onto the wreckage and they confirmed that there was human remains inside the aircraft,” Sergeant Neal Porter said.

He said the discovery came late Saturday night and the search was halted until Monday when specialized personnel can attempt to recover the body.

“We had to get some divers that can specifically dive to that depth,” Porter said.

An FAA spokesperson said the crashed plane was a Lancair IV and headed from Duluth to Goose Bay, a town in Canada.

Doug Meyer, director of sales and marketing for Lancair International, said that model is a kit plane that is typically built by amateur manufacturers. 

Meyer said the plane that crashed near Duluth had been flown for years without issue, and it left Bend, Oregon on Friday.

“The current, and at the time new owner, I think is the third owner. The airplane was built, I don't know exactly, but it could have been 10 or 12 years ago,” Meyer said.

He believes the owner was a German man and an experienced pilot, but he said third party trainers refused to work with the owner due to maintenance issues with the plane.

“The subcontractors that were going to train him declined to do the training until that maintenance was completed. My information is the maintenance was not completed and the owner elected to fly the airplane home,” Meyer said.

An FAA spokesperson said a team of investigators is now in Duluth to continue searching for the cause of the crash but answers will have to wait until the wreckage can be removed from the depths of Lake Superior. 

Officials with the Duluth Fire Department said the plane lost contact with the Duluth International Airport around 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. Crews in search boats found a log book from the plane in debris about a mile offshore from Brighton Beach, according to Assistant Fire Chief Erik Simonson.

According to the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office, pieces of the plane were found underwater and other personal belongings were found on the surface.

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