NEW RIVER, AZ - Two single-engine planes collided and then crashed north of the Valley on Friday, killing all four people aboard the two aircraft, officials said.
Phoenix Fire Department spokesman Larry Nunez initially said three people were found dead at the crash scene and crews were searching for a fourth. Nunez confirmed a fourth person was found deceased just after 11 a.m.
The planes went down around 10 a.m. near 67th Avenue and New River Road, according to Phoenix police Sgt. Steve Martos.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said a pilot reported seeing two small aircraft collide midair about 15 miles northwest of Deer Valley Airport.
"Both of them collided. We don't know how or why," said Nunez. "The skies are clear."
FAA and NTSB officials have been called in to investigate the scene.
One of the planes is owned by Bird Acquisition LLC out of north Phoenix. The tail number tracks back to TransPac Aviation Academy, a school for commercial pilots out of Deer Valley Airport.
Stephen Goddard, President and CEO of TransPac Aviation Academy, released a statement Friday afternoon about the tragic incident.
I was terribly saddened to learn of the loss of two of our members of the TransPac Aviation Academy family. We extend our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and fellow colleagues of the two instructors that were lost today. The individuals involved were deeply connected here at TransPac and their loss is felt by all of us. The entire extended TransPac community, including our Alumni, is in shock and mourning for the loss of both of these two good men. We are not releasing personal information about the individuals at this time out of respect for the families during this time of sadness and grieving.
TransPac officials are in contact with the Federal Aviation Administration, and we are extending our full cooperation to the National Transportation Safety Board for its investigation. In accordance with NTSB procedures, TransPac cannot comment on possible causes of the accident while the investigation is ongoing.
Goddard said an executive and training pilot were killed in the crash. The executive has been identified as Paul Brownell who is in his late 30s. Goddard says the training pilot on board was 26-year-old Basil Onuferko.
It is unclear who was flying the plane.
"Both of them were stand up guys. And Paul is such a good reflection of who we are and what we stand for," Goddard said.
Goddard says right now everyone who knew these two men feels like they lost family.
"We'll figure it out together, like you usually do. Like family does, you stuck together and you figure it out together," he said.
The second plane is believed to be a Cessna, according to Sgt. Martos, who also said it was part of WestWind School of Aeronautics. Identification of the two victims from this aircraft will by made by the Medical Examiner's Office.
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