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5 Killed in Plane Crash in the Desert

November 01, 2003|Julie Tamaki | Times Staff Writer

A nine-passenger plane, believed to have been piloted by an 89-year-old Burbank man, crashed in a remote stretch of the Mojave Desert about 75 miles east of Barstow, killing all five on board, a Federal Aviation Administration official said Friday.

The twin-engine Cessna-421 Golden Eagle disappeared from radar Wednesday afternoon while on a flight from Bullhead City, Ariz., to Van Nuys, the FAA said.

The plane had taken off about 11:55 a.m. Controllers lost contact with the plane about 12:25 p.m., officials said. The cause of the crash was not immediately determined, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

The San Bernardino County coroner's office did not release the identities of the victims.

But the FAA said the professionally qualified pilot, who would have turned 90 within a few days, had been flying almost 50 years. Officials identified the owner of the plane as Robert S. Brown of Burbank, but did not say whether he was the pilot.

Donn Walker, an FAA spokesman, said it was likely the pilot was flying with a copilot when the crash occurred.

The pilot filed a flight plan before taking off, and when he failed to check in with the FAA in Van Nuys as scheduled, the Civil Air Patrol was notified.

The Civil Air Patrol notified the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department about 10 p.m. Wednesday, and the two agencies began a search in the air and on the ground.

The wreckage was found about 7:30 a.m. Thursday in the open desert near Kelso, about 30 miles west of the Colorado River.

All the victims apparently died on impact, authorities said.

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