A longtime Duluth doctor and former St. Louis County medical examiner died Friday after the small airplane he was flying crashed trying to land in Laramie, Wyo., where he was visiting his son.

Donald W. Kundel, 79, was killed in the crash, family members confirmed Saturday. Kundel, a licensed pilot, was semi-retired from his job as a pathologist and "always had a passion" for flying, said Susan Weber of Duluth, his sister-in-law.

"He was a prominent doctor and a silent giant," she said of Kundel, adding that he was quiet but well-known for his generosity. "He was a great person who did a lot of things for a lot of people. He will really, really be missed."

About 2:50 p.m. on Friday, the plane he was flying crashed at the Laramie Regional Airport, where he was arriving to visit his son, according to the Laramie Boomerang newspaper. Kundel was the only person aboard, according to authorities in Wyoming.

There is no immediate word on what led to the single-engine propeller plane to crash "under known circumstances," said Allen Kenitzer, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The National Transportation Safety Board will lead an investigation into the crash, Kenitzer added.

The plane's FAA registration describes it as a Van's RV-7A, a two-year-old experimental aircraft that is amateur-built and seats two.