The pilot, a 73-year-old man, had just taken off from the airstrip in Rheinstetten, Baden-Württemberg on Wednesday when he seemed to lose control of the plane and crashed. It caught fire, killing everyone onboard.
“There is nothing left over, apart from the odd bit of twisted metal from inside the vehicle,” said volunteer fireman Werner Rüssel, who at around 5:30 pm was one of many who fought the blaze, which had already engulfed the plane when they arrived.
“We arrived right away and put out the flames,” he said. “But for the four people inside it was too late.”
The pilot was from the nearby city of Karlsruhe. A member of a flying academy, he was highly experienced in flying light aircraft and regularly took passengers up for short pleasure trips, a police spokesman said.
His passengers on Wednesday were a man, and his two teenage children – a son aged 17 and daughter aged 13.
Police announced that they did not know exactly why the plane, a one-engined DR 400 Remorqueur, caught fire and that an investigation would be underway. “There was a storm brewing which could have changed the air conditions,” said police spokesman Fritz Bachholz.