Authorities have released the names of four men killed in a plane crash near Maxwell Friday.
The victims have been identified as the Mark Bottorff, 54, Lancaster, Kan.; Ken Babcock, 71, Hiawatha, Kan.; Jason Drane, 39, St. Joseph, Mo.; and Chris Nelsen, 53, York, Neb., the Nebraska State Patrol said in a press release Saturday.
The twin-engine Beechcraft 58 Baron plane crashed around 4 p.m. Friday, 11 miles northeast of North Platte, near Maxwell, after taking off from the North Platte Regional Airport, Elizabeth Isham Cory, a spokeswoman with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), confirmed Saturday.
The plane took off from the North Platte Regional Airport at 3:46 p.m. and was expected to land at the York Municipal Airport at 4:28 p.m.
"The plane took off in relatively bad weather conditions with three miles of visibility and 1,000 feet overcast," Tom Latson, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) out of Houston, TX, said.
The plane's pilot made a mayday call shortly after taking off.
"The plane was climbing to a cruise altitude of 9,000 feet," Latson said. "During their climb, the air traffic controller heard a mayday call, then shortly after that, they lost radar and radio contact with the plane."
The wreckage was discovered three hours later on private property 11 miles northeast of North Platte.
A state trooper investigating the crash said the plane encountered heavy snow and black ice during its flight, Latson said.
The NTSB and the FAA are investigating the crash, which could take several months to a year to complete, Isham Cory said.
Latson said the NTSB and several other investigators, including investigators from the plane's air frame manufacturer and the plane's engine manufacturer, are assisting in the investigation Saturday and will return to the crash site to continue the investigation Sunday morning.
The plane is registered to the Atchison, Kan., business, Bottorff Construction, which Bottorff was the president of, according to the company's website.
To see the flight path of the plane, visit http://flightaware.com/live/flight/N36VE.