Wreckage of flight school plane with 3 onboard found in Carefree

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CAREFREE, Ariz. – The wreckage of a plane that had been reported missing and three bodies have been found near Carefree.

The plane was first reported missing Friday at about 8 p.m. It belonged to TransPac Aviation Academy, a flight school in Deer Valley.

Authorities say the plane took off from the Deer Valley Airport at approximately 7 p.m. headed to a practice area about 30 miles from the airport.

Detectives say the plane crashed about 19 miles northeast of the airport in mountainous terrain in the Seven Springs area.

Maricopa County rescue crews began their search for the plane Friday night but had to suspend the operation due to low visibility. The wreckage was located Saturday at around 7 a.m.

Sgt. Jesse Spurgin, with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, confirmed the bodies of those on the plane were recovered at about 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Their identities are not being released pending next of kin notifications.

TransPac Aviation Academy issued the following statement:

(Phoenix, AZ) – Feb. 26, 2011 - Stephen Goddard, President and CEO of TransPac Aviation Academy, released the following statement:
“I was terribly saddened to learn of the loss of members of the TransPac Aviation Academy family. We extend our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and fellow colleagues of our instructor and students. We are not releasing personal information about the individuals at this time out of respect for the families.
“TransPac officials have already notified the Federal Aviation Administration, and we are extending our full cooperation to the National Transportation Safety Board for its investigation. In accordance with NTSB procedures, TransPac will not comment on possible causes of the accident while the investigation is ongoing.
"The safety and security of our instructors and students is TransPac's highest priority.”