A small plane that crashed at the Colorado Springs Airport a few days before Christmas, killing an Air Force pilot and his wife, hit the ground in a "near-vertical impact," a National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report found.
According to the NTSB, the landing gear was still up as the single-engine Mooney M20E aircraft piloted by 2007 Air Force Academy graduate Martin Anthony Riggan went down Dec. 22 in freezing fog that had reduced visibility to a quarter mile.
The cockpit burst into flames and the impact caused "accordion-type crushing" consistent with vertical impact, the report said.
Riggan had reported a missed landing attempt at 11:58 a.m. and crashed less than a minute later, according to the NTSB.
Pilots of two commercial aircraft that had just taken off from Colorado Springs reported light icing, but there was no indication that Riggan had icing on his plane or was having trouble controlling the aircraft, the NTSB said in the report.
The wreckage was 400 feet from the runway and was spread out over 100 feet, the report said.
Riggan, a B1 bomber pilot stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base outside of Rapid City, S.D., and his wife Nicole left Rapid City Regional Airport at 9:18 a.m. They were headed to Colorado Springs to visit family and friends.