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2 Dead In Harrison Plane Crash

Two people die in a small plane crash near a high school football field on Friday.
/ Source: WLWT.com

WLWT.com

Two people were killed Friday night after a small plane crashed near a high school football field.

The crash occurred shortly after 8 p.m. near Harrison High School during a football scrimmage.

A witness in the press box at the high school told News 5 that as many as 1,200 people were at the school for the scrimmage and witnessed the plane crash.

Watch: Community Reacts To Fatal Crash

"It came right around this way toward the football field. It looked like it was going to land on the football field," witness Chett Brinson said.

Images: Harrison Plane Crash

The plane was piloted by Raymond Robben, 47, and his passenger, Belinda Roy, 52, known as Wendy to friends.

The pilot's friends said he and his girlfriend were simply taking a fun Friday ride, and that they don't understand how something could go so wrong for such an experienced pilot.

The single-engine Steen Skybolt biplane took off from Cincinnati West airport, which is adjacent to the field. One witness told News 5 it appeared that the plane had just taken off when it attempted to circle back and land at the airport.

"All of a sudden, he went straight up and then he came straight back down, but he was spinning when he was coming down and I thought he was going to hit the buses," Harrison football player Justin Herbert said.

Witnesses said the plane was headed straight for the football field when it suddenly dropped, crashing into a gravel pit about a quarter of a mile from the high school.

"It looked like he was going straight for the boys on the field, but then just did a straight nosedive," said Mindy Brinson, who witnessed the crash. "Kind of looked like he was doing a trick, gonna come back up. He didn't. He went straight down."

Witnesses said they rushed to the scene of the crash to help the two people on the plane. No one on the ground was injured.

News 5 reporter Andrew Setters learned that Robben was a pilot for the JTM Foods Group.

Company owner Joe Maas was Robben's business friend for decades, and he said the pair grew up together in Delhi.

"I actually was with Mike at the airport last night as he was preparing to take off -- chatted with him. He was looking forward to an uneventful flight. He called me as he was taking off," Maas said.

"I'm looking forward myself to finding out what happened. There are some reports that it stalled and crashed -- I can tell you Mike Robben knew how to recover from a stall. There was some discussion that the motor might have quit -- Mike Robben knew how the fly an airplane, land an airplane with no motor running. Mike Robben was a very skilled and experienced pilot," Maas said.

Joe left the airport to his home nearby, but stayed outside to watch the pair fly by.

However, he never saw this home-built bi-plane pass over head.

"Mike Robben was a very honorable, honest guy. He would be anyone's friend. He's the kind of guy you look forward to having that you call a friend," Maas said.

On Saturday, federal investigators returned to the crash site and pored over the scene. The plane was hoisted away to be taken back to a hangar so experts could analyze the craft.

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