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NTSB: Ice Present During Fatal Springs Plane Crash

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Colorado Springs Airport (credit: springsgov.com)

Colorado Springs Airport (credit: springsgov.com)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) – Some pilots had reported light ice buildup on their aircraft just before a small civilian plane crashed in Colorado, killing an Air Force bomber pilot from South Dakota and his wife, investigators said this week.

A freezing fog covered Colorado Springs Municipal Airport at the time of the Dec. 22 crash that killed Capt. Martin Anthony Riggan and Nicole Riggan, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board released Monday.

No one else was aboard.

The Air Force said Martin Riggan, 25, was a B-1B pilot stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D. He was a first lieutenant at the time but was promoted posthumously.

The El Paso County coroner identified Nicole Riggan as the other victim. Her age and hometown weren’t available.

The NTSB hasn’t released the cause.

The single-engine Mooney M20E departed from Rapid City, S.D., near Ellsworth, that morning bound for Colorado Springs. Investigators say Martin Riggan had aborted one landing attempt in Colorado Springs and was circling for another at the time of the crash.

The plane disappeared from radar less than a minute after Martin Riggan’s last radio communication, the NTSB said.

Pilots of two commercial aircraft that had just taken off from Colorado Springs reported light icing, the NTSB said. There was no indication that Riggan had reported any ice on his plane.

The NTSB said the wreckage was consistent with a nearly vertical crash and that the landing gear were retracted. Martin Riggan was the plane’s registered owner.

Separately, the NTSB said this week that a pilot killed in another Colorado crash had radioed ground controllers that he was losing control of the elevators, which determine whether the plane ascends or descends.

Charles Cullum, 50, of Lyons was killed Dec. 27 when his Cessna 210 crashed in mountainous terrain west of Loveland. He was the only person aboard.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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