Federal investigators gathering evidence in fatal Salem plane crash, occupants identified

Members of Salem Fire and Salem Police inspect a plane crash at Salem Airport on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022.
Members of Salem Fire and Salem Police inspect a plane crash at Salem Airport on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022.

This story was updated at 4:15 p.m. Sunday

Officials identified the two people who died in a plane crash at Salem Airport Saturday afternoon as residents of Boring, Oregon, but continue investigating the cause.

Daniel and Cynthia McKenna, ages 66 and 61, respectively, died at the scene. Daniel McKenna was piloting and attempting to land a single-engine Beech K35 aircraft at the airport.

Police and fire crews responded to the crash around 3 p.m. Saturday. Witnesses told Salem Police Department officials the plane crashed at the end of the runway.

The aircraft took off from and was attempting to land at Salem Airport, Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge Michael Hicks said during a press briefing at the airport Sunday afternoon.

Daniel McKenna was doing pattern work, a routine aviation operation where the pilot remains in the airport's traffic pattern in the shape of a rectangle, Hicks said.

The McKennas took off from runway 34 and made a left. Somewhere between the base leg and the final leg, something went "awry," Hicks said. They did not report any emergencies leading up to the crash. Weather did not play a factor.

Hicks confirmed the pilot was in contact with the tower at the time.

NTSB officials will be gathering evidence and information for a preliminary report, which should take about 15 days, Hicks said.

Investigators will be taking a look at the aircraft, its instrumentation and airframe to see if "anything rears its head" in terms of mechanical issues, he said.

Investigators also will delve into the pilot's background, including training and flight time certificates.

"There are circumstances that make you question what occurred and those are the details we intend to find out," Hicks said of the crash.

While aviation crashes and incidents do occur with some frequency, Hicks said the best way to avoid them is through proper training, aircraft maintenance and performing tasks within appropriate environments.

A secondary airport runway was shut down for several hours Saturday due to the crash.

Virginia Barreda is the breaking news and public safety reporter for the Statesman Journal. She can be reached at 503-399-6657 or at vbarreda@statesmanjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter at @vbarreda2.

This article originally appeared on Salem Statesman Journal: Police identify 2 people who died in plane crash at Salem Airport