PEARLAND, Texas—Investigators are trying to figure out what caused a small multi-engine airplane to slam into the ground and burst into flames in Brazoria County.
The Beechcraft King Air B100 was destroyed on impact, which was so intense, the plane’s fuselage was buried four feet into the ground. The resulting fire burned for more than two hours.
It took several more hours to find the pilot's remains buried deep in the crater. Investigators believe he was the only one on board the plane.
Witnesses said the plane went down along Hasting Field Road just west of Pearland Regional Airport around 9 a.m. Wednesday.
The plane was en route from Austin to Galveston when the pilot diverted to Pearland because of heavy fog, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Witnesses said the pilot tried to land but overshot the runway. He circled again before they lost sight of the plane in the fog. They heard the engine rev, then the crash.
"The plane just fell right in front of us," said Raul Solis who works near the crash site.
Solis and other workers were moving a chemical tank when the crash happened. They barely escaped injury.
"I heard debris falling on the cab and on the truck," Solis said. "You can see there’s debris and mud on the hood and stuff."
The plane went down near two homes, but no one on the ground was hurt.
"I heard a loud roaring sound like somebody was racing a car or something," said nearby resident Loretta Aguirre. "All the sudden I heard a loud boom, and the windows in my house shook. I came outside and saw a big ball of fire and a bunch of smoke, and I ran back inside."
Aguirre just moved into the house Tuesday. She thought it was an explosion in the oil field until she saw a news alert from KHOU.com.
"It really touches close to home cause I work for an airline and it’s really scary that I find out it was a plane. it gives me chills," Aguirre said.
The pilot was scheduled to pick up two passengers in Galveston. When those passengers got word the plane was diverted, they drove to Pearland. They were at the airport waiting for the plane when it crashed.
The pilot reportedly worked for the Dixie Company. His boss arrived at the scene but was too upset to speak with the media.
The pilot’s identity has not been released.