Authorities have identified the victims in Saturday's deadly crash of a Montauk-bound plane.
They are pilot Keith Weiner, 63; his wife, Lisa Weiner, 51; daughter Isabel Weiner, 14, and Lucy Walsh, 14. Keith Weiner's father, William Weiner of Pearl River in Rockland County, said Walsh was a friend of his granddaughter's. The Weiners lived in Manhattan; authorities believed Walsh did also.
The crash was under investigation Sunday. Soon after a 1:05 p.m. takeoff from Westchester County Airport, Keith Weiner told air traffic controllers he had to return, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Holly Baker said.
The pilot was heading almost due north on a clear day and tried to turn around to land after an unspecified emergency, said Peter Knudson, spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating. The emergency's origins are unknown, he said.
The Cessna P210 Centurion crashed in a wooded area within a mile of the airport on land belonging to the Croton Watershed, which supplies water to New York City and is managed by the city's Department of Environmental Protection, said DEP spokesman Farrell Sklerov. There are no known witnesses, and the crash caused a significant fire, Knudson said.
Airport spokesman Steve Ferguson said the plane was based at Panorama Flight Service in White Plains, The Associated Press reported.
William Weiner said his son was a licensed flight instructor and that Lisa Weiner was a licensed pilot; Isabel was taking classes in ballet and acrobatics, and had just won admission to a performing arts school in Manhattan. They frequently flew from Westchester to Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard or Long Island, and planned to have lunch in Montauk Saturday, he said.
Weiner described his son as a coolheaded, resourceful pilot who once safely returned a plane to Nantucket when the engine failed after takeoff. "It was so well done, and everybody aboard was so calm with him controlling it," he said.
Father and son were partners in Piermont-based Cavu Galleries, specializing in picture framing and aviation art. The gallery's name is an aviation term meaning "perfect weather," Weiner explained.
The two were planning a Father's Day excursion to get what William Weiner called a "$65 hamburger": "We'd go flying into some other airport, have a hamburger," he said. "We'd usually make up our minds where to go at the last minute."
At Montauk Airport, airport manager Helen Gil said the Weiners had been visiting for the last 12 or 13 years, flying in to visit the beach and have lunch at Gosman's Dock, and that Keith Weiner had called for a weather update early Saturday morning. "The weather was fine," she said. "It was a beautiful day."
Gil keeps on her office wall a picture of the family, taken when Isabel was a baby, and said she knew something had happened to the family as soon as Westchester airport officials read her their plane's tail number over the phone. "We're kind of sick over it," she said.
The single-engine, high-wing, Cessna Model 210 was introduced in 1959, according to the manufacturer's website. More than 9,000 were built from 1960-1986.
According to FAA records, the plane that crashed was built in 1980; the Weiners had owned it for at least three years.
John Frank of the Cessna Pilots Association, a technical information service that publishes a magazine and conducts seminars for Cessna owners, said the plane is considered "one of the premiere, high-performance, single-engine airplanes," with an above average safety record.
Starting in 1970, the 210 was a six-passenger plane, so it's unlikely that weight was a factor in the crash, Frank said.
With Michael Amon