AUSTIN (KXAN) — A twin-engine Piper Aerostar crashed near the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on Wednesday, killing one person. The plane was trying to land when it went down, Federal Aviation Administration officials said.
The flight took off from Dallas-Executive Airport at 12:26 p.m. and went down an hour later. The plane is registered to a man from Dallas. EMS officials reported that the pilot was the only person on board. Austin Police identified the pilot as 55-year-old David S. Anderson.
Airport officials said the pilot did not report any problems to the control tower prior to the crash. The plane crashed near a fire station at SH-71 and Cardinal Loop, just north of the airport. National Transportation Safety Board officials have been called in to investigate.
Dan McGreevy, who lives in the airport’s flight path, was outside and could tell something was wrong with the plane. “I just kind of heard him…saw the smoke, knew something was up.”
McGreevy says his knowledge from working in aviation tipped him off. “Having worked at airports, I’ve seen a few plane crashes…my ear picked it up. I knew something was wrong.”
KXAN’s camera atop the Austonian building showed smoke rising from the scene just off SH-71 immediately after the crash. The downed plane sparked a 3-acre grass fire, but it was quickly contained by firefighters who responded to the scene. No structures were threatened.
“The fact that the crew was right around the corner made all the difference in the world,” said Palmer Buck, Austin Fire Department Battalion Chief. “It’s super dry out there and the wind was pushing that fire so they made a good stop, in addition to protecting the crash site.”
Airport officials initially said Runway 17L was briefly closed, but later said it remained open and that no other incoming or outbound flights have been impacted. However, FlightAware.com appeared to show some inbound flights were placed in a holding pattern near the time of the crash.
At least one plane was briefly diverted after the Piper went down. Multiple people who got off a United Airlines flight at around 3:15 p.m. said they were descending into ABIA, when all of a sudden the plane went right back in the air.
“Wheels were coming down and then we started rising again, and I thought OK,” said passenger Sherry Hart. She said they were notified that there had been an aircraft accident and that they would be diverted to San Antonio.
“I was just concerned about them, because they were supposed to land three minutes before me, I didn’t want them to be on the aircraft that had the accident,” said a family member waiting for their friend who was coming in from Portland. “She was fine, just frustrated because she was hoping to be here. When you leave at 4:30 in the morning to get up and fly up, she said I’m just ready for this to be over.”
The plane eventually made it to Austin about 90 minutes after they were supposed to, but most were just happy they landed safely. An ABIA spokesman KXAN spoke with was not aware of the diversion, and says that is in the control of the airline.