MADISON COUNTY, Ill. — A Florida man died Saturday morning when the plane he was co-piloting crashed in rural Madison County, Illinois, authorities said.
The Illinois State Police identified the victim as Robert L. Binger, 60, of Lake City, Florida.
Binger and another man—Buck E. Martin, 39, of Edwardsville—were flying a Piper Comanche when it crashed shortly before 11:40 a.m. off Keck Road near Illinois Route 4.
"For unknown reasons, the aircraft lost altitude and crashed," Illinois State Police Sgt. Rodger Goines said.
The plane, which was manufactured in 1958, was registered to Binger, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.
A law enforcement source said the plane was returning to St. Louis Metro East Airport/Shafer Field from Eagle Creek Airpark Airport, a single-runway facility about seven miles northwest of Indianapolis. It took off at about 9:30 a.m. St. Louis time.
Binger was pronounced dead at the scene. Martin was taken by ambulance to a St. Louis hospital with injures that are considered life-threatening.
Bill Weder, a flight instructor at St. Louis Metro East Airport/Shafer Field, said it was the first fatal crash since the airport opened in 1976.
Weather conditions in the area were rainy and overcast when the plane crashed.
The crash site is about halfway between Troy and St. Jacob.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating what led to the crash.