In what may be a deeply unfortunate first, three people in a flight simulator died in a plane crash at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport yesterday. The three died when a twin-engine Beechcraft King Air, whose pilot was also killed, crashed into a flight training center just after takeoff. Around 100 people usually work in the building and they've all been accounted for, although authorities say the bodies haven't been removed yet because of concerns the building may collapse, the Kansas City Star reports. Heavy equipment was used to search for four people thought to have been in another flight simulator room, but it turned out to be empty. One of five people injured in the crash is in serious condition, while the other four have been treated and released.
Pilot Mark Goldstein, a recently retired air traffic controller, declared an emergency and tried to return to the runway shortly after taking off, saying he had lost his left engine, according to air traffic control tapes. The NTSB is investigating, but it could be months before the agency determines the cause of the crash. The King Air that crashed was 15 years old, and the owner of aircraft safety firm Air Data Research describes the plane as a "workhorse" with a "good, solid" engine. "I can't think of any really spectacular problem that's been found on them," he tells the Wichita Eagle. "A lot of airplanes are known for problems. The King Air isn't known for anything bad." (Read more Kansas stories.)