BOONE, NC (WBTV) - Federal investigators Tuesday began looking into the fatal plane crash that happened in Boone Monday afternoon.
One man was killed and two others critically hurt when the single-engine plane clipped the tops of trees and went down shortly after takeoff from the Boone Airport.
The plane wound up on a golf course fairway and burst into flames.
Officials said that 69-year-old Ben Chappell, of Boone, was the pilot. He died in the crash. John Field Wesley ll, 68, of Lenoir and 43 year old Steven Cox Berry of Banner Elk were seriously hurt and airlifted to a burn center in Winston-Salem.
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Chappell was well known in the Boone area where he was a State Trooper until his retirement. He had been a pilot since the 1980s.
"He was a very good pilot," said friend and fellow pilot Robert Collins. "He was a tender-hearted guy who would help anyone."
Boone Police Chief Dana Crawford said people who met Chappell liked him.
"He was a jovial guy who touched a lot of lives in this community," Chief Crawford said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, arrangements were not complete.
Back at the scene of the crash, investigators began the process of removing the engine from the scene as well as other wreckage that might help them determine what happened. People who saw the crash said they thought something was wrong with the aircraft and believed the pilot was trying to pull the nose up when the plane went down.
National Transportation Safety Board experts are looking into it, but say it could be months before a final report on the cause is released.