It crashed in a rugged canyon near Payson
The Arizona Division of Emergency Management confirms that wreckage spotted Saturday morning by a Department of Public Safety helicopter pilot is that of a small plane that disappeared Thursday during a flight that originated at Mesa's Falcon Field.
According to a news release, the wreckage was in a rugged canyon northwest of Strawberry. The canyon is accessible only by ground. Search and rescue personnel from the Gila County Sheriff's Department arrived on the scene and confirmed the identity of the plane. Deputies also found three bodies on board.
The plane belonged to CAE Global Academy, a flight school. According to the Divison of Emergency Management, the occupants of the missing flight were instructor Taylor Bennell, student pilot Lucas Westenberg and passenger Rob Van Den Heuvel. The identities of the bodies on board the plane have not yet been confirmed.
The plane was on a training flight from Mesa to Winslow, with a planned stopover in Payson on the return trip. It never landed at either airport. The plane was last seen on radar near Payson, so that's where the search was concentrated.
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