The NTSB said Thursday, "according to preliminary radar data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration, the airplane (Beechcraft Bonanza) started its takeoff roll at 1125:15, (Sunday Feb. 16). The last location of the airplane was recorded at 1126:27, just off of the departure end of runway 27, at an altitude of 9,000 feet. The pilots never established contact with air traffic control and an Alert Notification for a missing airplane was issued. Search and Rescue volunteers located the wreckage later that evening. There were no known witnesses to the accident."
The three Arizona residents who died are identified as Sherry and Sherman Anderson, 57 and 64, of Phoenix, Ariz. They have one daughter. Both Andersons were commercial airline pilots. Also killed was Eric Durban, 48, from Mesa, Ariz., who leaves behind his wife, Angela, and two children. Durban was reported to be an accomplished former military pilot.
The three belonged to the Arizona Cloudbusters Flying Club, based in Phoenix.
The aircraft took off "in light snow, with one mile visibility and calm winds," according to the San Miguel County Sheriff's Office press release.
“Inclement weather was a factor” in the crash, San Miguel Sheriff Bill Masters said. “This is certainly not the outcome we were hoping for; it’s just a terrible, terrible tragedy,” he said.
"The airline transport certificated pilot and two pilot-rated passengers were fatally injured," the NTSB report said. "The airplane was substantially damaged and a postimpact fire ensued. The airplane was registered to and operated by Arizona Cloudbusters Inc., under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a training flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan. The flight was originating at the time of the accident and was en route to Cortez."
The report said the closest official weather observation station was "KTEX, Telluride, Colorado, located one half mile east of the accident site. The elevation of the weather observation station was 9,070 feet msl. The automated weather observing station (AWOS) for KTEX, issued at 1135, reported, wind 080 degrees at 4 knots, visibility 1.5 miles with light snow, sky condition clouds broken at 1,000 feet, overcast at 1,400 feet, temperature 0 degrees Celsius , dew point temperature minus 1 degrees C, altimeter 30.17 inches."
The report is just preliminary and information it contains may change before the NTSB releases its final report in the coming months.
Additional reporting by Samuel Adams.