By DAVE COLLINS
The pilot of a small plane that crashed on a busy road near the headquarters of military jet-engine maker Pratt & Whitney, killing a passenger, told police detectives that the wreck was intentional, the mayor said Wednesday.
East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc told The Associated Press that the badly burned pilot told authorities the crash Tuesday was not an accident, but she cautioned that investigators have not confirmed that information.
“It’s troubling,” Leclerc said. “But I also know that stories change and information can be skewed. We’re waiting for the facts to come out.”
The FBI, Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.
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Authorities said a student pilot and an instructor were trying to land the Piper PA-34 Seneca at Brainard Airport in Hartford when it struck a utility pole in East Hartford and crashed onto the road at around 4 p.m., bursting into flames. The crash site is a short distance from the airport, across the Connecticut River and in line with the runway.
The police chief in East Hartford asked the FBI to assist in the investigation because it happened so close to Pratt & Whitney.
“The path that the plane took could have been much worse. So we’re very fortunate in that sense,” Chief Scott Sansom said.
Police say the pilot was hospitalized with serious burns but was talking with investigators. The passenger was in the wreckage and presumed dead. Police haven’t released names.
Two people in a minivan that came close to colliding with the plane were taken to a hospital with minor injuries.
Authorities urged people to avoid the area as investigators continued their work.
“This is a very complex investigation with a lot of different agencies and a lot of different moving parts,” fire Chief John Oates said.
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