ARBOR VITAE, Wis. (AP) - A St. Charles, Ill., doctor, his wife
and two veteran pilots were killed when the small plane they were
in crashed in woods shortly after taking off for northern Illinois.
Thomas Lappin, 63, and his wife, Anne Lappin, 61, died Sunday
evening when their Piper PA-31P Navajo burst into flames upon
impact about a half-mile north of Lakeland Airport in Arbor Vitae.
Also killed were pilots Carl Price, 64, and Edward Vogler, 53,
both of Naperville, Ill.
Vogler was a chief pilot for American Airlines. Price was
retired from the airline.
"Both pilots were very, very experienced pilots," said John
Jirschele, American Airlines' Chicago base manager. "Just about
every pilot at American Airlines knows Carl Price's name, and in
Chicago, everyone knew Ed Vogler."
Family members said the two men enjoyed flying together.
"We're taking consolation that he was with one of his best
friends doing what he loved to do the most," said Price's daughter
Heidi.
Geneva businessman Peter Lappin said he, his father and several
others owned the plane.
Vogler and Price were allowed to use the twin-engine aircraft
for free in exchange for their flying the Lappin family to their
vacation home in Boulder Junction, Wis., and other destinations.
Lappin said another pilot flew his parents to their Wisconsin
home on Friday. Vogler and Price were bringing the couple back and
headed for DuPage Airport in West Chicago when the accident
occurred.
Federal investigators began checking the wreckage Monday. The
crash site is about 270 miles north of Madison.
"It cleared the runway, but it never had the altitude to get
out. It crashed into a wooded area on some state property," said
Jeff Biertzer, Arbor Vitae's rescue squad chief.
A crew of 20 to 30 firefighters fought the blaze for about three
hours.
National Transportation Safety Board investigator John Brannon
said it likely would take investigators two days to piece together
what happened, since the eight-seat plane was badly damaged and
would be hard to examine.
"Most of the airplane was consumed in that fire," said
Brannon, adding that there was no report of engine trouble before
the plane went down and weather likely was not a factor. He said a
witness saw the craft take off and thought "the airplane was lower
than it should have been."
Brannon said investigators were awaiting autopsy and toxicology
reports.
It could take up to six months for investigators to determine a
cause for the crash, according to NTSB officials.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)