Witnesses said the plane appeared to be flying west and low in poor visibility, but it crashed going east.
Misty weather is among factors investigators are considering as they continue to search for reasons a single-engine plane crashed into a muddy farm field Wednesday, killing three people four miles north of Glencoe, Minn.
Low clouds at 900 feet, mixing with misty drizzle and reduced visibility of 2.5 to 5 miles "will definitely be something we'll be taking into consideration," said Jennifer Rodi, a senior safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board. She arrived on the scene Thursday morning and said investigators will also consider pilot Stuart Dahlberg's experience "in marginal weather," as well as results of standard medical and toxicology tests.
Dahlberg had no communication with air traffic control personnel, and his 1947 Beechcraft Bonanza was not equipped with a black box data or voice recorder, but Rodi said investigators still hope to find a small data recording device as they comb through 900 feet of debris.
Witnesses wondered why the plane was flying in such lousy weather and said the plane appeared to be heading west, but crashed going east.
"What his intentions were, unfortunately, we won't be able to document definitively," Rodi said. "But that's something we're looking into and curious about." She wouldn't speculate on whether Dahlberg might have been attempting to land on one of the rural McLeod County roads.
"My initial reaction was that he was going too fast and too low and it was drizzling and he shouldn't be out here," said Richard Gebhardt, who farms soybeans and corn across the road from where the plane came down. "When I saw the smoke, I thought: 'Oh my God, he's crashed.'"
Dahlberg's wife, Ivelisse, and his mother, Mae, were also killed, along with three pet dogs. The pilot and his wife lived in Brooklyn Center and his mother lived in St. Cloud. They were flying from the Crystal Airport in Crystal to Colorado to watch a high school play Dahlberg's sister was directing.
Curt Brown • 612-673-4767