Two people are dead in Monroe County following the crash of a single-engine headed for Madison.
The pilot has been identified as Richard Arlin Justice, 73, of Hatley, according to Monroe County Coroner Alan Gurley. The name of the passenger is not being released at the request of the family, Gurley said.
The two were the lone occupants of the plane.
According to FlightAware, a 1980 Mooney M20J fixed wing single-engine plane, registered to Justice, was scheduled to depart from the Monroe County Airport at 6:10 a.m and arrive at Bruce Campbell Field in Madison at 7:05 a.m. The plane took off at 6:14 a.m.
Shortly after takeoff, the plane “must have had some problems” and turned around toward the airport, said Monroe County Sheriff Cecil Cantrell.
The plane crashed three to five minutes after takeoff in a wooded area, Cantrell said.
Officials found the wreckage about a half mile south of the airport around 11:40 a.m., according to Federal Aviation Administration Communications Manager Kathleen Burgen.
The two bodies were recovered from the plane.
There was no sign of fire at the scene, Cantrell said.
The FAA is investigating, Burgen said. The National Transportation Safety Board is also investigating the accident and is in a “fact-finding” stage, according to spokesperson Terry Williams.
Williams said it will likely be a year before a final probable cause of the crash is released.