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Initial crash report cites wind, poor visibility.

Byline: Christopher Frisella The Register-Guard

A small plane that crashed last week north of Harrisburg, killing four people, went down in windy, turbulent conditions with poor visibility, according to a preliminary report issued Wednesday.

Killed in the April 7 crash were the 67-year-old pilot and a family of three traveling to Eugene from Southern California for a campus tour of the University of Oregon.

The 1984 Piper PA-46-310P, piloted by Mark Gregory Aletky of Acton, Calif., went down in a grassy field near Carney County Park, the Linn County Sheriff's Office said. Authorities identified Aletky's passengers as John A. Zitting, 42, Karen Blackmore Zitting, 37, and their 17-year-old son, John, all from Thousand Oaks, Calif.

The aircraft was destroyed.

The preliminary report issued Wednesday by the National Transportation Safety Board did not establish the cause of the crash. The cause remains under investigation, an NTSB spokesman told The Oregonian/ OregonLive.

The report said the pilot was making an instrument approach to the Eugene Airport, meaning conditions required him to fly primarily by referencing navigation instruments rather than by sight.

The plane was flying in strong wind, moderate to severe turbulence amid low level wind sheer with visibility obscured by clouds, mist and precipitation, according to the report.

"Several witnesses located near the accident area report they observed the airplane flying at a treetop level," the report said.

The single-engine, six-seat Piper Malibu departed Van Nuys, Calif., about 7:30 a.m., officials said. It crashed shortly before 11 a.m. about 15 miles north of the Eugene Airport.

Aletky, a certified pilot, had been hired for the flight by the plane's owner, Utah-based Park City Aviation LLC.

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Title Annotation:Local News; This is a QuickRead set in two columns, the text attributes are the same, but the rule is gone
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 15, 2017
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