UPDATE FROM FAA: All three people died in plane crash in Forest County
By Ben Meyer and Katie Thorsen
The three people on board a small aircraft that crashed in northern Forest County Tuesday morning are dead, according to online FAA records.
The Federal Aviation Administration says one pilot and two passengers were on board and the plane was destroyed.
The FAA says the plane crashed under unknown circumstances in a swamp in Eagle River.
The airplane was a twin-engine Rockwell 690B.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is sending an investigation team to the scene. An NTSB spokesperson said the team will arrive Wednesday.
Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport Director Matthew Leitner told WXPR the aircraft departed from his airport at about 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday. Leitner was not sure of the plane’s destination.
Around 9:30 a.m., Leitner’s office received communication from air traffic control, based in Minneapolis. The air traffic control crew was searching for a missing aircraft. Rhinelander itself has no air traffic control station, and the air traffic control station in Minneapolis guides airplanes for the entire northern Wisconsin region.
Leitner said a Life Link helicopter and Wisconsin DNR airplane then took off from the Rhinelander airport, responding to the incident.
FAA spokesperson Eva Ngai said the plane crashed into a swamp 12 miles east of the Eagle River Airport. A Forest County Sheriff’s Office public information officer on scene told WXPR the plane crashed near the Franklin Lake Campground in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
According FlightAware, which tracks flights, the flight rapidly lost altitude just before 9 a.m. Central Time, roughly 10 minutes into its flight. FlightAware shows the plane’s route ending near Eagle River. The discrepancy between the times given by FlightAware and the FAA is unexplained as of yet.
The plane is registered to Surdex Corp., according to FlightAware.
Several local agencies responded to the incident, including sheriff’s deputies from Forest and Vilas counties, the Eagle River Fire Department, Three Lakes Fire Department, Oneida County EMS, U.S. Forest Service, and DNR.
Ngai said both the FAA and NTSB would investigate.