RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Two people were killed when a small plane crashed near a North Carolina airport, prompting an intensive overnight search of a nearby state park and temporarily halting arrivals and departures of commercial flights, authorities said Monday.
The victims were identified in a statement by Raleigh-Durham International Airport as Harvey Partridge and Patricia Partridge, both 72, of Terra Ceia, Florida. FAA records show that Harvey Partridge was certified to fly single- and multi-engine planes as a private pilot.
Airport officials said search crews found the missing plane around 10 a.m. Monday near a trail in William B. Umstead State Park.
The Federal Aviation Administration said air traffic controllers lost radar contact with the Piper PA32 at about 7:25 p.m. Sunday as it approached Runway 32, the smallest of three landing strips and perpendicular to what the airport considers its primary runway. The FAA website said the single-engine plane typically has around six seats.
Rescuers from at least a dozen state and local agencies spent the night searching in and around the park, a 5,600-acre (2,260-hectare) wooded expanse bounded by an interstate, the airport and a state highway. The park remained closed Monday, and people were asked to avoid the area while authorities secured the crash site.
The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation into the crash.
Related: How to survive a plane crash, according to science
How to survive a plane crash, according to science
How to survive a plane crash, according to science
The safest thing to do with your carry-on … Is leave it on the plane. Flight crews ask you to keep your luggage clear of the aisles for a reason; in the event of an evacuation, you don’t want it blocking an escape route. With as little as 90 seconds to evacuate a burning place, the precious time spent reaching for luggage could be a life and death decision for someone. Learn about the 22 things flight attendants won’t tell you.
The safest place to sit on the plane … is behind the wings. A Popular Mechanicsstudy of 20 commercial jet crashes with both fatalities and survivors found that passengers seated in the rear cabin (behind the wings) had a 69 percent chance of survival, compared with just 49 percent for those in first class. But you don’t have to sacrifice leg room for safety’s sake: exit rows are perhaps the safest place to sit on the whole plane. In the event of an evacuation, the closer you are to an exit, the higher the chance you’ll escape unscathed. Here’s how to pick the best seat on a plane for every need.
How to sit
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What to wear on your feet
The best shoes to wear … never leave your feet. Hassle-free flip-flops might seem like a good idea for braving airport security, but in the chaos of a crash or evacuation, they’ll only slow you down. Likewise, high heels can lead to stumbling, and may even be sharp enough to pop the inflatable exit slide. Wear a pair of comfy flats or sneakers, and keep them on your feet through the whole flight. Not only can loose shoes get in other passengers’ way and hinder your own mobility during an evacuation, but also remember that nobody wants to smell your stinky feet. And statistically, that is a far greater threat to air travel than any crash. Learn 18 more things you should never do on an airplane.
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Harvey Partridge ran a veterinary clinic in St Petersburg, Florida, and a statement from his office called him "a truly wonderful doctor and advocate for animals." The statement also said Partridge owned the aircraft.
Airport spokesman Crystal Feldman said Sunday night that the dense woods and darkness hindered initial phases of the search, which included helicopters scanning for signs of heat coming from the wreck. Firefighters and other rescuers were shown on news footage heading into the woods with flashlights late Sunday and early Monday.
On Monday morning, authorities began launching drones from an airport runway to fly over the state park to assist in the search.
Air operations were halted at the busy airport for about 20 minutes Sunday night as firefighting and rescue units rushed to the wooded area. That caused a number of commercial flights into the airport to be delayed or diverted until regular operations resumed.