A private jet crashed in a ball of flame Wednesday as it approached an airport north of Lake Tahoe in stormy weather, killing both people on board.
The twin-engine Learjet 35 had taken off from Twin Falls, Idaho, and was scheduled to pick up two passengers at Truckee Tahoe Airport before traveling on to California, said Bruce Nelson, a Federal Aviation Administration operations officer in Los Angeles.
Officials did not yet know what caused the crash, but a storm had brought rain, snow and high winds to the area, Nelson said. Authorities did not immediately identify the victims.
Mark Maisel of Truckee told the Sierra Sun newspaper he saw the plane crash short of the runway in a field while driving nearby.
“The right wing went straight up with the left wing straight down, then the left wing went straight up,” he said. “Then it hit the ground with the biggest ball of flame you’ve ever seen.”
The plane was owned by R.S.B. Investments, based in Washington, Pa., a company that does business as Skyward Aviation, Nelson said. Skyward is an aircraft charter, sales and management company.
A woman who answered the phone at Skyward but refused to give her name said company officials were not answering questions about the crash.
Weather near the Truckee airport was poor, with rain, 23-mph winds and wind gusts over 40 mph, officials said. The airport had issued a warning on its Web page that pilots might encounter “turbulence, downdrafts and wind shear.”