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NTSB report: No cause yet of deadly plane crash near Payson

February 28, 2020 GMT

PAYSON, Ariz. (AP) — A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board doesn’t list a possible cause for a small plane crash near Payson that killed one person aboard and injured two others last month.

The report released Thursday says the pilot told NTSB investigators he decided to fly over the Mazatzal Mountain Range on the return flight to Mesa’s Falcon Field Airport on the morning of Jan. 24.

The pilot flew about 1,000 feet above ground level over the mountains while the passengers were spotting wildlife on the terrain below.

The pilot says the airplane was running well and he doesn’t remember anything else until waking up in a small creek at the accident site about 10 miles (16 kilometers) southwest of Payson.

Gila County authorities say one passenger on single-engine Piper was killed and the pilot and another passenger were seriously injured.

One of the two survivors managed to call 911 for help.

The NTSB report says the plane hit steep brush-covered terrain and its cabin and fuselage burned.