DENVER (AP) -- Sheriff's deputies have reached the wreckage of a single-engine plane that crashed near a Colorado ski town's airport, killing all three people aboard.
The victims are Sherry and Sherman Anderson from Phoenix, Ariz., Sherry is 57 years old and Sherman is 64 years old. They have one daughter. Both were commercial airline pilots; Sherman was a captain with U.S. Airways, Sherry, a first officer with United.
Also killed was Eric Durbin from Mesa., Ariz. Durbin, 48, has a wife, Angela, and 2 children. His family says Durbin was a retired Blackhawk Army pilot who was a flight instructor with the Arizona Cloudbusters Flying Club.
All three pilots were members of the club, and the group owned the single-engine Beechcraft plane which crashed Sunday, shortly after taking off from Telluride Regional Airport around 11:20 a.m. Sunday.
Investigators say they intended to fly to Cortez, a city in southwest Colorado about 75 miles away, San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters said in a statement. The wreckage was found in a cliff band about a mile west of the airport six hours later following an intense search by deputies and the Civil Air Patrol.
A photo of the wreckage tweeted by Masters on Monday shows the charred fuselage of the plane with the wings largely intact. Deputies had previously confirmed there were no survivors.
"This is certainly not the outcome we were hoping for, it's just a terrible, terrible tragedy," Masters said.
The cause of the crash is not yet known, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said. There was light snow, with visibility of 1 mile and light winds during takeoff, Masters said.
The last communication with the pilot was from the Telluride runway during takeoff, he said.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the accident, Gregor said.
All three pilots were described by family and friends as exceptional pilots with decades of experience.
"(Aviation) was their passion," said Grant Gasson, a close family friend to the Andersons. "They loved to do it; ultimately they died doing it together."
In addition to excellent pilots, they were incredible people, according to loved ones.
"They brought joy to everyone around them. They would give you the shirt off their back. They were just wonderful people," said Gasson.
The couple leaves behind a teenage daughter. Eric Durbin leaves behind two children and a wife of 25 years. He worked as a director of Network Operations at Red Door Spas, according to family.
"Eric was a great pilot and an amazing, loving husband and father," Durbin's family said in a statement. "Flying was his passion; earning his pilot's license when he was 16 years old and flying ever since, as well as being a military pilot in the army for nine years. He was a wonderful man who brought happiness and laughter to those around him. He will be greatly missed."
Statement from friends and family of the Andersons
The family and many friends of Sherman and Sherry Anderson mourn the loss of two wonderful people, parents, and friends. Sherman and Sherry shared a deep love for aviation. It was what brought them together, was their vocation, and shared passion. They lived life to the fullest and brought joy, lots of laughter, and tremendous love to all they came in contact with. Sherman and Sherry will be missed dearly. We humbly ask others to respect the privacy of the family as they cope with this tragic loss.
Arizona Cloudbusters Flying Club | Media Statement – February 17, 2014
The members of the Arizona Cloudbusters Flying Club are mourning the loss of three of our dear friends and fellow club members. We extend our most sincere condolences to the families of the victims of this tragic accident. Our thoughts and prayers are with these families at this time.
Our club is fully cooperating with the NTSB, the FAA, and local authorities in Colorado to aid in the investigation to determine what led to the accident. We are deeply saddened and hope the media will respect the privacy of the victims’ families as they mourn the loss of their loved ones.
Press release from San Miguel County Sheriff: VICTIMS OF TELLURIDE PLANE CRASH IDENTIFIED – RECOVERY OPERATIONS COMPLETE
Press release from San Miguel County Sheriff: RECOVERY EFFORTS COMPLETED – 3 PEOPLE DEAD. VICTIMS IDENTIFIED
Press release from San Miguel County Sheriff: MISSING AIRCRAFT FOUND CRASHED ONE MILE FROM TELLURIDE AIRPORT RUNWAY – THREE PEOPLE DEAD
“This is certainly not the outcome we were hoping for, it’s just a terrible tragedy,” San Miguel County Sheriff... http://t.co/tZiM5Brk98— San Miguel Sheriff (@SMCSheriff1) February 17, 2014
SAR and Sheriffs Deputies assigned to recover victims from plane crash today. Technical recovery from cliff going... http://t.co/fKa7LqKCOO— San Miguel Sheriff (@SMCSheriff1) February 17, 2014
MISSING AIRCRAFT FOUND CRASHED ONE MILE FROM TELLURIDE AIRPORT RUNWAY – THREE PEOPLE DEAD News Release Attached http://t.co/dP6kyPo3h6— San Miguel Sheriff (@SMCSheriff1) February 17, 2014
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