A small plane appeared to have clipped treetops before crashing west of Houston, killing both people aboard, federal investigators reported Friday.
The Dec. 8 crash of the single-engine Piper PA 28-140 aircraft happened in a heavily wooded area shortly after takeoff from West Houston Airport. The Texas Department of Public Safety identified those killed as student pilot Solomon Babalola, 23, of Katy, and passenger Apesin Oluwafunmilayo, 20, of Houston.
In a preliminary report, the National Transportation Safety Board said there were no witnesses.
Radar showed the single-engine Piper PA 28-140 aircraft took off about 8 p.m., flew south-southwestward for 1.5 miles before making a series of left and right ascending and descending turns. The last descending turn increased the plane's descent before radar lost contact.
The National Weather Service reported low clouds and fog were found in the area and that instrument flight rules were ordered.
Investigators dispatched to the crash site found a 50-foot-long debris path. They found initial impact appeared to have been with treetops. The aircraft's right wing was found nearby. More trees were struck descending toward a large impact crater, where the aircraft was nose down.