A pilot was killed Monday morning when his small private plane crashed shortly after takeoff in southern Rowan County, authorities say.
The crash happened several hours before daybreak in a wooded area near the Rowan-Cabarrus line. Searchers said they found the wreckage about 3/8 of a mile off Old Beatty Ford Road, in the Gold Hill area.
Rowan County authorities say a passing motorist called 911 about 4 a.m., saying he had seen the plane crash into the woods. The caller also reported seeing smoke rise from the crash scene. Searchers began looking before daybreak and reported finding the wreckage shortly before 6 a.m.
The plane was completely destroyed, said Frank Thomason, Rowan Countys emergency services director.
Thomason said nobody else was aboard the four-seat plane, a Socata Trinidad single-engine craft.
The plane had taken off about 4 a.m. from the Gold Hill Airpark. Authorities say they believe the pilot, whose name had not been released as of Monday afternoon, was a resident of a nearby neighborhood.
The pilot had filed a flight plan and was headed for Lancaster, Pa., authorities say. Authorities say an investigator from the FAA went to the crash scene Monday.
The weather at 4 a.m. was cloudy and foggy across Rowan County. The visibility at the regional airport in Salisbury was less than 1 mile at the time.