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Johnson County Executive Airport reopens following crash

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Posted at 4:27 PM, Dec 31, 2019
and last updated 2020-01-01 13:53:03-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — UPDATE, Jan. 1 11:30 a.m. | The Kansas Highway Patrol says the preliminary investigation shows the plane took off on Runway 18, headed south. As the aircraft took off, it began to slow, turned over and headed toward the ground.

As the aircraft descended, it struck several trees prior to striking the ground. The impact of the ground caused it to be engulfed in flames. An NTSB investigator is expected to arrive Wednesday afternoon.

As of 11:30 a.m., officials had re-opened the airport.

UPDATE, Jan. 1 | Early Wednesday morning the Kansas Highway Patrol released the names of the deceased. A crash report lists Jonathan J. Vannatta, 48 of Maumelle, Arkansas, as the pilot and Darcy L. Matthews, 43, of Belton, Texas as a passenger. Both died at the scene of the crash.

ORIGINAL STORY | Two people died in a plane crash at the Johnson County Executive Airport Tuesday afternoon, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol.

"We are working to identify the people involved so that notifications can be made," Trooper Gustavo Ramirez with KHP told media during a press conference.

Shortly after 4 p.m., police and fire personnel from Overland Park and Olathe were sent to the scene near 156th Street and Parkhill Street.

The plane was on fire when officers arrived, according to Overland Park police.

LISTEN: Emergency crews called to JoCo plane crash

Tony Molinaro, an FAA public affairs official for the central region, said that a single-engine Mooney M20S crashed "under unknown circumstances" after departing from the Johnson County airport. The aircraft was destroyed in a fire after the crash. Molinaro also said the aircraft was destroyed in a post-crash fire.

The plane was registered out of Shelbeyville, Tennessee.

Video from 41 Action News SKYTRACKER showed a small single-engine plane in a field adjacent to the airport, located on 151st Street between Pflumm Road and Quivira Road.

"We were the first arriving unit here on scene you could see a black column of smoke as you approached the airport," said Captain Mike Hall, of the Olathe Fire Deptartment. "The first unit did get here, and it's a specialized unit. They had some different extinguishing agents on it for an incident like this... used some foam, got it under pretty quick and used some dry chemical powders as well."

A Johnson County, Kansas, Sheriff's spokesperson said the crash happened shortly after take-off.

"When you see the site itself it's very tragic looking more than likely they were thinking recovery at first glance," Hall said.

FAA investigators were en route to the crash site.

This is a developing story and will be updated.