DALLAS -- A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration says two people died in a small-engine aircraft crash Thursday morning at the border of Kaufman and Ellis counties beside the Trinity River.
The plane was a two-seated, Czechoslovakian training jet called an L-29 Delfin. Video from HD Chopper 8 shows a tight debris field, which pilots say suggests a rapid descent. Little was left of the plane at the site where it crashed, leaving behind a large line of scorched earth and scattered wreckage.
Firefighters arrived at the scene, using hoses to extinguish hot spots in the debris of the wreckage.
Lancaster Assistant City Manager Mauldin Robertson said a plane failed to return to the Lancaster Airport Thursday.
Authorities have not officially released the names of the victims, but aviation sources told News 8 the pilot was a 77-year old resident of Highland Park.
"Very, very experienced pilot,” said Ron McCallum, a pilot who was also flying into Lancaster Regional Airport Thursday. He says he’s knew the crash victim for over ten years.
Lynn Lunsford, spokesman for the FAA, said he was not in contact with air traffic controllers and did not file a flight log. Lunsford said it's possible the small aircraft wasn't flying high enough to require it.
"We came in, made our approach and our landing, and had the opportunity to taxi by his hangar, because our hangar is three doors down from it," McCallum said. "We noticed his aircraft was missing. [We] shut down and went to go speak to his son, and found out that he was overdue."
Aviation sources say, during the Vietnam War, the deceased pilot flew combat 100 missions. A friend tells News 8 says the pilot was flying Thursday to raise money for charity.
"[As] the business man that I understood that he was, the person that he was, the father and husband that he was, his funeral will be well attended,” McCallum said.
News 8 has learned the passenger in the plane was Fisher Floyd, 30, of Highland Park. Floyd had two young children and graduated from Highland Park High School.
According to The Dallas Morning News, Floyd won the flight in an auction.