DNR plane crashes killing pilot

DNR plane crashes killing pilot

9 April 2009

published by www.madison.com

USA — A state Department of Natural Resources plane being used to help spot grass fires in central Wisconsin crashed Wednesday, killing one person, a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman said.

It was not immediately known whether other people were onboard. But Kelly Zenz, manager of the Wood County Dispatch Center, said he thought the pilot was the only person in the plane, believed to be a fixed-wing multi-engine aircraft.

The crash occurred about 2:30 p.m. in a field about six miles southwest of Marshfield, Zenz said. The plane was being used to help observe a wildfire as firefighters worked on the ground.

“It was in the DNR intensive area, which means the DNR units were there, so they bring in the plane,” Zenz said. “Something malfunctioned to where he crashed.”

The crash occurred in a field next to the fire, he said.

WSAW-TV in Wausau reported on its Web site that a witness at the scene, Richard Luther, said he was in his car near the wildfires when he saw the plane circling around the flames. Luther said it made three circles and on the fourth circle it became low and dove into the ground.

Greg Matthews, a spokesman for the DNR in Madison, said the name of the pilot has not been released because the victim’s family had not been notified.

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