Firefighters work at the site of the crash of a plane returning from Atlanta, Friday night. (Waterford Township Fire Department)
An airport official says the pilot killed in a small-plane crash near Oakland County International Airport was from Waterford Township.
According to J. David VanderVeen, director of Oakland County Central Services, which includes the airport, the victim in Friday night’s crash was 32-year-old Andrew Demos, 32.
VanderVeen said that Demos had “all the appropriate licenses” and earned multiple degrees in aviation.
Federal investigators were on the scene Saturday morning of the crash near Oakland County International Airport.
The pilot was the only one aboard a twin-engine Cessna 310 operated by Royal Air Freight of Waterford Township. The plane was reported to have crashed on its final approach at 7:48 p.m., police said.
The plane was flying back from Atlanta, said VanderVeen.
A man at the Royal Air office at the airport declined comment Saturday.
The crash caused a fire, which was extinguished by Airport Rescue and Fire. Waterford police and firefighters were at the scene of the wreckage.
The plane, which Federal Aviation Administration records show was built in 1977, went down in the Pontiac Lake Recreation Area in Waterford Township near a beach and boat launch area west of the airport. No one on the ground was injured.
The airport was open at the time, but was closed after the crash for about two hours. It reopened at 9:55 p.m. Friday, VanderVeen said.
Visibility was not good with rain and hazy conditions. The pilot was making an instrument-guided landing.
“It’s too early to speculate why the plane crashed. That will be determined by the National Transportation Safety Board,” VanderVeen said. “We regret any time there is a loss of life and our condolences go out to the pilot’s family.”
Tony Molinaro, a spokesman for the FAA Great Lakes Region, said investigators would be putting together information to deliver to the NTSB which will conduct the official investigation and eventually release a report. It can take months for the NTSB to release official findings on a crash.
A Royal Air plane was involved in a crash near Chicago Executive Airport in 2010 that killed two pilots from Michigan. Pilot Stephen Ellis, 38, of Pontiac and co-pilot Ryan Daenzer, 40, of Osceola County were aboard a Learjet 35A when it crashed into the Des Plaines River outside Chicago.
According to the company’s website, their fleet consists of the Cessna 310, as well as six other types of aircraft. They fly private charter flights as well as cargo delivery flights. The company was founded in 1962 at Oakland County International Airport by William Kostich, according to the site.
This is the second fatal crash in less than seven months at the Oakland County airport.
A single-engine Cessna 172 crashed shortly after takeoff June 21. Killed were the pilot, Troy Brothers, 19; his mother, Sandra Haley, 53; his stepfather, James Haley, 58; and his cousin, Jamie Jose, 34.
A recently updated NTSB report said investigators did not find major mechanical problems with the plane but showed its estimated gross weight was within two pounds of the maximum allowed and “the wings’ flaps were full down.”
Associated Press contributed to this report.