Victims Identified In Deadly Plane Crash

11 News has confirmed through family members the identities of the husband and wife killed in a plane crash near the Colorado Springs Airport Monday morning.

The family of Mike and Paula Fritzel did not want to comment, but confirmed that they were the two killed when the single-engine Cirrus SR22 plane Mike was flying crashed just after taking off from the Colorado Springs Airport.

The couple lived just outside Fort Worth, Texas.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says that Mike radioed air traffic control to say the plane had lost engine power just before the crash.

On the radio transmission to air traffic control, you can hear Mike calling out the problem.

Air traffic control: "(inaudible) say again.”
Mike: “I’m having engine problems. I’d like to turn around."

Witnesses say the plane spiraled out of control before slamming into the ground and exploding.

"It spiraled down, belly up, and then hit the ground...the wing and the tail fell off," Taji Moseley told us.

"It did some flips, and then it just came straight into the ground. It didn't skip or anything. It went down," Steve Holm recalled.

The crash caused a grass fire, which quickly spread. Firefighters were able to get it extinguished before it reached any structures. NTSB says an explosion after the plane hit the ground likely caused the fire.

The SR22 is equipped with a parachute system designed to bring the entire plane safely to the ground in the event of an emergency, but investigators say the parachute had not been deployed.

Experts 11 News talked to said the plane was likely not high enough to deploy the parachute.

Witnesses at the airport say the pilot chose not to utilize the entire runway, and instead take off from a taxiway closer to the runway's end. That means the pilot would have had less time to get the plane off the ground.

It is not known yet if that had anything to do with the crash, but the NTSB's investigation should reveal if that was the case.

The NTSB arrived on scene Monday afternoon. Tuesday they took apart the plane so that it could be better examined.

They said Tuesday there was nothing initially concerning with the engine.

"We will be examining the wreckage to try and understand why it was the pilot reported a loss of engine power,” NTSB Senior Air Safety Investigator Jennifer Rodi said. “Whether it was a mechanical anomaly with one of the planes systems, or the engine itself."

The investigation could take months, but the NTSB expects to have some preliminary results out by the end of this week or early next week.