3 dead after small plane crashes in CO

DENVER, AZ - A single-engine plane carrying three people from Arizona crashed near the airport of a Colorado ski town, killing all aboard, authorities said.

The private Beechcraft Bonanza took off from Telluride Regional Airport airport at 11:20 a.m. Sunday on its way to Cortez, a city in southwest Colorado about 75 miles away, San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters said in a news release.

Air traffic control at the Telluride and Denver airports lost contact with the plane, prompting a search by the sheriff's office at 12:40 p.m. It was found crashed into a cliff band about a mile west of the airport at 5:17 p.m., and deputies confirmed there were no survivors, the sheriff said.

"This is certainly not the outcome we were hoping for, it's just a terrible, terrible tragedy," Masters said.

Officials said the plane was registered to the Arizona Cloudbusters Flying Club based at the Stellar Airpark in Chandler.

Police officials identified the three individuals as commercial airline pilots Sherman, 64, and Sherry, 57, Anderson from Phoenix, and 48-year-old Eric Durban from Mesa, Ariz.

Officials tell ABC15, all three have been described as accomplished and qualified pilots.

According to authorities, Durban leaves behind a wife and two children. Officials said the Andersons have a 16-year-old daughter.

Andrew Estes, a fellow pilot who used to rent airplanes to the Andersons, said they were great people who always had a smile on their face.

"They're going to be sorely missed and they were a benefit to the aviation community and they will be sorely missed," said Estes.

The Cloudbusters Flying Club released a statement Monday saying, "We extend our most sincere condolences to the family of the victims of this tragic accident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families at this time."

The cause of the crash is not yet known, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said. There was light snow, with visibility of 1 mile and light winds during takeoff, Masters said.

The last communication with the pilot was from the Telluride runway during takeoff, he said.

The sheriff's office said a helicopter it contracted, a fixed-wing aircraft from the Civil Air Patrol and deputies took part in the hours-long search.

Airport officials and the Telluride fire chief referred questions to the sheriff's office.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the accident, Gregor said.

Officials said Cloudbusters is cooperating with investigators as they work to find out what caused the crash.

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