Shortly after leaving the runway at the Colorado Springs Airport, the pilot reported a loss of engine power just before the plane went down, said Jennifer Rodi, a senior air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.
"Witnesses are describing the plane as spiraling or spinning toward the ground," she
said late Monday afternoon.
There was an explosion after the impact, Rodi
said, and a fire erupted, destroying most of the plane and burning one-half of a mile of the surrounding open field.
Thirty-five Colorado Springs Fire Department personnel responded to the scene, the Fire Department reported.
Rodi said it has not been determined if the pilot and passenger died as a result of the crash or the fire.
The destination of the civilian aircraft was not known.
The Cirrus SR22 single-engine, low-wing airplane was equipped with a parachute, but it was not deployed, Rodi
It's possible the plane would have had to be 1,000 feet above ground before the parachute would work, she
Weather conditions were "fairly good," she
said, although there was a breeze.
"What role that may or may not have played will be a portion of our investigation," she
NTSB and FAA investigators from around the nation arrived at the scene midafternoon Monday and will conduct the bulk of the investigation Tuesday, she said.
Aviation experts will examine "man, machine and environment," Rodi
Investigators will document the wreckage, including the engine, and look for mechanical problems.
What role the temperature, dew points and winds may have played in affecting the performance at the time of takeoff also will be studied, she
The bodies were being removed from the site late Monday afternoon, and an autopsy, including a toxicology report, will be done on the pilot, which Rodi
said is routine in a crash.
The pilot's training and experience with such an airplane also will figure into the work.
An initial report could be released Friday or next Monday, Rodi