UPDATE FROM: COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, MISSISSIPPI:
An instructor pilot assigned to Columbus Air Force Base died in a general aviation plane crash Sunday night at approximately 6:30 p.m. near Abilene Regional
The pilot, United States Air Force Maj. Richard W. "Tracer" Schafer III, 35, and his brother, were pronounced dead by local authorities. Two other passengers were transported to a local hospital.
Schafer was flying his private aircraft, licensed in Mississippi, while on vacation with his family in Texas. The cause of the crash is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
"This is a tragic event that affects not only Team BLAZE, but our community partners both here and in Abilene," reflects Col John Nichols, commander, 14th Flying Training Wing. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Maj Schafer's family as they cope with this painful tragedy."
Additional details will be provided as soon as they become available from the NTSB.
MONDAY AFTERNOON UPDATED: The pilot, 35-year-old Ricky Schafer who was stationed in Columbus, Mississippi, and his brother, 28-year-old Matthew Schafer, were killed when their small, experimental aircraft crashed into the trees and brush south of Industrial Blvd. just before 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Their bodies were taken to Tarrant County for examination. The two other passengers, Victoria Schafer, 31, and Wyatt Schafer, 2, were taken to Hendrick Medical Center with non life-threatening injuries.
Hendrick officials have confirmed that Wyatt Shafer has been released from the Hendrick Medical Center -- Victoria is in fair condition.
Abilene police have closed down the east end of Industrial Boulevard until the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration have conducted their investigation.
Abilene Fire Lt. Mike Miller said there was a witness account of the plane crash.
“The witness said that the plane took off from the airport, made a hard bank and returned towards the airport—then went down, “ Miller said, “it landed in the field behind us."
NTSB investigators arrived to the crash scene Monday afternoon around 1:25 p.m. Tim Latson was the lead investigator and he said he will need to take parts of the plane to a lab for more research.
"I will remove the engine, propeller and several pieces of electronic equipment," Latson said, "and I will take those for further laboratory examination."
Latson believes the entire crash investigation could take from 6 months up to 1 year. Dyess investigators were also at the crash scene Monday.
Latson will present his final findings in front of a 5 person board -- the members of that board will determine the cause of the crash.
ORIGINAL STORY: A small plane has crashed near Abilene Regional Airport near Diamondback Golf Club.
The crash happened around 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
According to emergency responders on the scene, two people have been taken to the hospital. They were responsive.
No word yet on their condition.
We are actively working to bring you more information.