A Hampton (Va.) man, believed to be the president of a Cumberland firm, was killed Wednesday when his small plane crashed while trying to land at the Cumberland Municipal Airport, West Virginia State Police said yesterday.
The victim of the 4:50 p.m. crash was tentatively identified as Jan F. Miller, 40, president of the National Jet Co., a micro-engineering and tool- making company based in Cumberland.
Witnesses said the victim, the only person aboard the twin-engine Piper Aerostar, was trying to circle the field for a second attempt at landing when the craft went down in Wiley Ford, W.Va., where the airport is located, investigators reported.
Federal Aviation Administration investigators had not determined the cause of the crash by last night.
Sgt. Gary A. Armentrout, the lead investigator of the crash for state police in West Virginia, said residents near the airfield reported that the pilot was not in line with the runway during the initial attempt to land. They said they believe that heavy clouds caused the pilot to lose sight of the runway.
The plane, which left Williamsburg, Va., at 3:31 p.m. Wednesday, skimmed trees and went down in a cornfield just southeast of the runway as the pilot circled for a second landing attempt.
The pilot's last communication was a 4:40 p.m. request to land, about 10 minutes before the crash.
Bill Kline, who lives near the airport, told police that he heard the plane "conk out, and three seconds later heard an awful explosion," Sergeant Armentrout said.
The wreckage was strewn across 200 feet of the cornfield, police said, and the victim's body, burned beyond recognition, was found under a severed wing of the plane.
"It was a mess," Sergeant Armentrout said. "The plane was [broken in half] and burning, and there were gauges and hoses and parts and papers all over the place. The [severed] wings were one place and the cockpit was someplace else."