Plane Crashes into St. Louis-Area Home; 2 Are Missing

February 23, 2010

A small plane that slammed into a house and hangar in a St. Louis, Mo.-area subdivision built for aviation enthusiasts never sent out a distress signal before crashing, authorities said Feb. 22. Two people believed to be on board were presumed killed.

No one on the ground was injured when the single-engine Piper Malibu went down in rain on the evening of Feb. 21 in the Aero Estates Court subdivision while approaching St. Louis Downtown Airport, just east of St. Louis, St. Clair County Sheriff’s Capt. Steve Johnson said.

Airport director Bob McDaniel said the plane, which can seat up to six passengers, was based at the airport and was flying from Vero Beach, Fla.

The plane was registered to a St. Louis-area investment brokerage, McDaniel said.

Johnson said authorities believe two people were on the plane, based on the pilot’s flight plan, which listed a passenger. Relatives of the passenger have told investigators that person was to have been aboard the plane, Johnson said.

McDaniel said he knew the two people believed to be killed in the crash.

“They’ve been around a long time, and they’re well-known to the airport,” he said. “It’s gonna be a tough day.”

Messages left by The Associated Press with the Federal Aviation Administration and the county coroner’s office were not immediately returned.

McDaniel said FAA records show that the plane left Vero Beach at 3:19 p.m. CST Sunday – about an hour behind schedule – and was approaching the Cahokia airport in light rain about three hours later when the crash occurred.

“The weather was well within (the pilot’s) capabilities,” McDaniel said. “It’s just somewhat of a mystery.”

Johnson said it was a miracle that no one on the ground was injured, noting that the home’s occupants were dining out at the time of the crash. Neighbors broke out windows to rescue two dogs that were inside the burning house, Johnson said.

Houses in the subdivision have hangars and private runways.

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