Cause of Crash of Piper Apache in Connecticut Unknown

Police were attempting yesterday to identify the two occupants of a twin-engine plane that crashed on approach to an airport in Windham, Conn., after flying from Brookhaven Airport.

Neither body has been identified, Connecticut State Police said, pending notification of kin. The small private plane, a Piper Apache PA-23, was registered to Louis Martinez of Bayport.

Police and aviation officials said yesterday it was unclear if the owner was on board the aircraft when it crashed and burned at 3:43 p.m. Sunday.

A woman who answered the door at Martinez's address last night said, "We don't have any information" and declined to comment further.

An employee at Brookhaven Airport in Shirley said airport officials could not supply any information regarding the aircraft, the flight or the crash.

Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and Connecticut State Police said the plane was making an east-to-west approach to Windham Airport when it veered to the left and crashed into a wooded area just south of the airport and east of Route 6.

Connecticut State Police said police, fire and emergency medical personnel who responded to the scene found both occupants dead inside the aircraft after the blaze was extinguished.

It was unclear yesterday what may have caused the crash, and calls to the National Transportation Safety Board were were not returned yesterday.

It also was unclear whether the plane had any history of mechanical problems, officials said.

The flight departed Brookhaven Airport at 2:52 p.m. on Sunday, according to the FAA. A spokesman for the Connecticut State Police, Trooper William Tate, said the plane was attempting to land when the landing was aborted - only to have the aircraft crash into nearby trees as it attempted to circle the field.

According to FAA registration records, the plane was been owned by Martinez since July 1991. The Piper was built in December 1964.

The Associated Press reported yesterday that an eyewitness told a local television channel that he saw the plane flying "barely 20 feet" above the treeline, then saw it dip and disappear.

Staff writer Zachary R. Dowdy and Emerson Clarridge contributed to this story.



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