(Update: Pilot identified as Bend man; more details)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A motor glider crashed and burned shortly after takeoff Tuesday afternoon at Bend Municipal Airport, killing the pilot, a 65-year-old Bend man, Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies said.
Sgt. William Bailey said deputies were dispatched around 1:25 p.m. to the reported glider crash in the northeast corner of the airport, located off the Powell Butte Highway east of the city. Witnesses reported the aircraft crashed and quickly caught fire.
Deputies learned a 2002 Aviastroitel AC-5M motor glider (also known as a powered glider) had crashed just after takeoff and the sole occupant, Christopher McKeage, had died, Bailey said.
Witnesses said the glider had just left the runway when the pilot apparently encountered engine problems.
The glider rose to about 100 feet but stalled, banked sharply and crashed nose-first into the ground, catching fire seconds later, the witnesses said.
Bend Fire & Rescue, sheriff's deputies and Bend police rushed to the airport as thick, black smoke rose over the crash scene.
Fire crews had the resulting fire knocked down in about 10 minutes.
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash, which occurred near the airport's helipad, FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said.
The crash remains under investigation and the cause has not been determined, Bailey said. Deputies spent the afternoon photographing and documenting the scene, talking to witnesses and collecting video surveillance around the time of the crash, for forwarding to the federal investigators.
The Deschutes County Medical Examiner's Office also assisted at the scene, he added.