Flight instructor, student killed in plane crash near Siler City airport

A flight instructor and student were killed Friday when a small plane crashed in Chatham County, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol said.

The crash happened in a wooded area near the Siler City Municipal Airport around 12:45 p.m. about a mile south-southeast of the airport, reported ABC11, The News & Observer’s newsgathering partner.

The plane, a single engine 1969 Piper PA-28, had left Raleigh Executive Jetport in Sanford, 24 miles away, at 12:29 p.m.

The Federal Aviation Administration said two people were on board the four-seat plane.

On Sunday, the victims were identified as instructor McMillan Abernathy, of Beech Mountain, and student Justin Strauss, of Raleigh, according to ABC11.

Executive Flight Training and Services, a flight school in Lee County, owned the aircraft, according to FlightAware, a flight-tracking website. The News & Observer left two phone messages for the company Friday afternoon.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash, an FAA spokesperson said. The FAA usually releases a preliminary incident report on the next business day.

An investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board was expected to be at the scene Saturday, an NTSB spokesperson said.

The Piper PA-28 is frequently used as a training plane and doesn’t generally have inherent safety issues, said James Crouse, an aviation attorney who has studied more than 500 flight crashes.

We will update the story as we get more information.