- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 24, 2004

WATERFORD, Va. — An 84-year-old pilot and his 83-year-old wife were killed yesterday when the small plane they were flying crashed in a heavily wooded area in Loudoun County.

Richard and Geraldine Meyer were on their way to visit their daughter and her family in McLean for Thanksgiving, when their twin-engine Cessna 310 went down at 12:09 p.m. about four miles northwest of the Leesburg Executive Airport.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash.

“It will take months to investigate,” said Jim Peters, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which released the preliminary data on the crash.

Mr. Peters said the plane started out in Naples, Fla., sometime yesterday morning. Virginia State Police said the plane had stopped in Wilmington, N.C., before it headed toward Leesburg.

Mr. Peters said Mr. Meyer had talked with controllers at the FAA facility in Warrenton, Va., but never gave controllers any indication of a problem. The Potomac Tracon facility handles all takeoffs and landings in the Washington area.

“It was cleared for a landing at Leesburg airport on runway 17,” he said.

The pilot was given a radar reading, and “for whatever reason, they made a second approach,” said Trooper Kevin Armstrong with the Virginia State Police who responded to the scene. “That’s when they crashed into the hill.”

The plane’s fuselage crashed about 30 yards from a single-family home. The house escaped damage. The plane was destroyed.

Yesterday afternoon, the wooded area near the house was cordoned off with bright yellow police tape.

Trooper Armstrong said the family told authorities that the couple was originally from Illinois.

The plane was registered to Richard Meyer III of River Forest, Ill. Mr. Meyer was listed as the owner of the plane. The plane’s registration number was N310DM.

Yesterday’s crash was the latest in a string of fatal crashes of planes using the Leesburg airport at 1001 Sycolin Road SE.

From July 2002 to March 2003, there were three fatal plane crashes. Five persons died.

In April 1997, a teacher from Broad Run High School was one of two persons killed in a crash in the same area, which authorities said is referred to locally as “Leesburg Mountain.”

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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