December 3, 2021
Pilots perish in unrelated plane crashes
INLAND EMPIRE – (INT) – Two pilots are dead after their bodies were discovered in their demolished experimental aircraft in widely separated areas of the Inland Empire.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has assumed an investigation into the cause of Tuesday’s fatal crash of one single-engine plane.

The Zodiac 601XL came down in a field off of Butterfield Stage Road not far from the French Valley Airport in the city of Temecula.

Calfire reported the pilot and only occupant perished and was dead inside the demolished aircraft. He was identified as Marshal Whatley, 48, of Murrieta.

There was no damage to any buildings and no streets were closed, CalFire stated.

It wasn’t immediately known if the plane had taken off or was enroute for a landing at the nearby airport.

There was no indication the pilot had filed a flight plan.

It may take several months before the NTSB makes a finding of probable cause.

The aircraft is built from a kit and is said to offer more performance and many standard features specifically for sport pilots.

Earlier, the NTSB tweeted that a Glasair III was found crashed last Sunday east of Big Bear. The plane disappeared a day earlier in a mountainous area east of the mountain resort.

Pilots of both planes were alone in their aircraft.
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