KENOVA, W.Va. -- Six people were killed Friday when a twin-engine plane crashed near Tri-State Airport shortly after the pilot radioed that the aircraft was low on fuel.
Witnesses said the low-flying Piper PA-34 hit a power line before crashing about 1.5 miles from the Wayne County airport shortly after 1 p.m. Friday.
"The pilot issues a mayday,'' said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters. "The mayday was based on low fuel.''
Peters said controllers at Tri-State were working with the pilot when the plane made a sudden 180-degree turn and they lost contact.
The plane made an emergency call to the airport saying that they were low on fuel, a Tri-State Area Airport operator told the Gazette-Mail.
The plane radioed in a second time that they were very low on fuel before falling a little over a mile short of the runway, the operator said.
The plane is registered to a Wilmington, Del.-based company called Wesvin Inc. The identities of the people on the plane weren't immediately available. A telephone listing for Wesvin could not be found.
Plymale Branch resident Amanda Smith told The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington that she heard a loud crash and saw nearby power lines shake, and then the power went out.
"My husband ran in with my daughter because they were sleigh riding and said, 'Call 911. A plane crashed,''' Smith said.
Appalachian Power confirmed the plane struck a 345-kilovolt distribution line, but spokesman Phil Moye said electricity was switched automatically and power to the area would have blinked off and back on at most. The impact damaged the line and Appalachian Power was checking the extent of the damage by helicopter, Moye said.
Peters said the pilot was flying under visual flight rules and had not filed a flight plan. He did not know if the plane's original destination was Tri-State.
The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.