updated 6/1/2004 6:14:23 PM ET 2004-06-01T22:14:23

A small plane crashed Monday afternoon in a rural area of central Michigan, killing the three people aboard, authorities said.

There was no immediate word on what caused the crash of the Lancair plane, which is an aircraft built from a kit, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro said. The plane had been flying from Ypsilanti to Billings, Mont., he said.

The four-seat plane crashed in Vermontville Township, about 30 miles west of Lansing, said an Eaton County dispatcher who declined identification. All three people aboard were killed, the dispatcher said.

"Witnesses report that the plane rolled skyward, then nose-dived to the ground," according to a statement released by the sheriff's department. Some witnesses told WILX-TV of Lansing that they heard the engine quit, restart and quit again.

The victims were not immediately identified.

The weather was mild at the time of the crash, with partly cloudy skies and 18 mph wind, the National Weather Service said.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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