WATERFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A pilot and three passengers were killed Friday after a small plane crashed shortly after taking off from an airport northwest of Detroit.
Airport spokesman Dave VanderVeen said the Cessna 172 went down about 1:40 p.m. Friday at Oakland County International Airport in Waterford Township. Three people aboard the private, non-business-related flight were killed instantly, while the fourth died later at a hospital.
VanderVeen said three of the victims were male and one was female, but didn't have names or ages.
"It's a very sad day for the airport," said VanderVeen, the county's director of central services, who previously managed the airport for 25 years. He added that the airport's last fatal crash was in 2006.
VanderVeen said the pilot took off Friday from a 5,600-foot runway designed for smaller planes and reached an altitude of about 100 feet before requesting permission to return. The plane crashed in a field at the end of a runway seconds after takeoff, he said.
"All we know is the pilot requested permission to return. A few seconds later, he crashed," VanderVeen said. "This was a pleasure flight as opposed to a commercial flight. We've not been able to confirm if a flight plan was filed."
However, filing on flight plan on this type of flight is not required, he added.
The Federal Aviation Administration was en route to the airport and the National Transportation and Safety Board is expected to arrive Saturday.
The Oakland County airport is used for corporate, business and private flying, VanderVeen said. It also has air charters and air freight, and is the state's second busiest airport after Detroit Metropolitan Airport, which is in the Detroit suburb of Romulus.
In 2006, a flight instructor and his student were killed when a single-engine plane belonging to a flight school crashed at the airport.