Police ID victims of plane crash near Sisters

Police ID victims of plane crash near Sisters


by KGW Staff and AP

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Posted on April 24, 2012 at 6:18 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 8:03 AM

SISTERS, Ore. -- A small plane crashed near Sisters late Monday morning, killing a man from Bend and another who had a home in Terrebonne.

The Lancair IV Propjet single engine airplane went down four miles southeast of the Sisters mountains, according to Allen Kenitzer with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The victims were identified as Patrick Franzen, 52, of Bend, and Harry Mortimer League, 68, of Chicago, said Lt. Chad Davis of the Deschutes County sheriff's office. League also has a home in Terrebonne, which was the address listed on the plane's registration.

Friends of League told KTVZ he frequently visited Central Oregon. The TV station also reported that Franzen was an FAA-rated flight instructor and ground instructor.

The National Transportation and Safety Board is leading the investigation.  Kenitzer said so far, there were no obvious indications as to why the plane went down.

Deschutes County Sheriff Larry Blanton told KTVZ-TV that some of the people who called 911 reported hearing the sound of a prop or jet plane "in distress." They then heard the loud sound of a plane crash and possible explosion, he said.

Kenitzer said the aircraft was destroyed in the crash and wreckage was scattered in a wooded area along U.S. Forest Service Road 4606, also called Brooks Scanlon Main Line Road, about 3.5 miles south of Peterson Ridge Road.

Authorities have not said where they believe the plane was en route from. Next of kin have been notified.

Lancair International is based in Redmond, Ore. Marketing and sales director Doug Meyer said the Lancair IV-Propjet was a single-engine four-seater made from carbon fiber and capable of 350 mph. The model was designed in 1992 and there were about 600 sold as kits before it was replaced by another design several years ago.

Meyer said he spoke to a mountain-biker who saw the crash and there was no obvious explanation for what witnesses have reported.

"Both pilots on board we are aware of were highly experienced professionals, not given to fool around," he said. "Something very strange happened. These airplanes don't come apart. They are very strong. They don't suffer inflight failures. The engines are very reliable. This is a very sophisticated airplane. When you have good, experienced pilots, they are very safe."

Records showed that League's plane was certified as "airworthy" on March of 2005 and re-certified again on June 16, 2011.

Meyer explained that the Propjet was considered an amateur-built experimental aircraft by the FAA and must be certified as airworthy before being allowed to fly.

Early reports from the FAA said three had died in the crash. But authorities later confirmed that only two people were on board.

The crash site is a bit south of the green marker on the map below.