Federal investigators are in Plainville trying to figure out what caused a plane to crash and burst into flames on Thursday evening.
More details about the pilot, who was killed in the crash, have been released. Town officials said he was familiar with Robertson Field Airport and had been taking flying lessons there.
The big question investigators have been trying to answer is what made the pilot miss the runway.
"It's a catastrophe," said Plainville resident Wendell Copeland. "I feel sorry about that."
As word spread through Plainville about the deadly crash, residents stopped at the edge of the runway to pay their respects.
"It's just so sad," said resident Barbara McClellan. "You look at this, and you see family and history. It's too bad."
Plainville's town manager said the plane crashed just after 7 p.m., just before severe thunderstorms rolled into the area.
He said the plane crashed into the embankment just short of the runway, killing the pilot instantly.
After that, officials said, the single-engine Cessna burst into flames.
The town manager said the pilot had rented the plane, which was based at Robertson Field Airport.
He said the airport operator knew the man since he had taken flying lessons there previously.
The National Transportation Safety Board said the pilot had about 1,000 hours of flying time listed on his rental application.
Airport officials said they're still in the process of figuring out exactly where he took the plane on Thursday.
"Initially we were told that he went to (Martha's Vineyard) and back, but then we were told he was visiting people in Canaan, but it wouldn't be unusual to stop at a couple of different airports," said Bob Gretz of the NTSB.
The town manager said the approaches to the airport are wide open, and the airport hasn't had a deadly incident for at least 10 to 12 years.
Copyright 2012 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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