Five people were killed Wednesday afternoon when a twin-engine plane on a flight to take pictures of a vintage Soviet jet fighter crashed east of Prescott, a federal official said.
A twin-engine Piper Cheyenne and a MiG-21 fighter took off from the Prescott airport about 1:30 p.m. for a photo shoot, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.
As the Piper was climbing on takeoff, an air traffic controller radioed the pilot to warn him that vapor was seen coming from the right hand engine, Gregor said. The pilot radioed back that he believed there was no problem.
About 20 minutes into the flight, the MiG pilot told investigators he thought he had a problem with a landing gear door and asked the pilot of the Cheyenne to fly close in to the jet for an inspection, Gregor said.
The MiG pilot said the Cheyenne never reappeared after flying under his jet and radioed air traffic controllers there may have been a mid-air collision at about 8,900 feet. But Gregor said there was no sign of damage on the jet after it landed safely at Prescott.
Searchers spotted a large column of smoke and found the Cheyenne destroyed in a crash. There were no survivors.
Investigators from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the accident. Prescott is about 60 miles north of Phoenix.