By Mary McGuire

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Federal investigators are looking into what caused a fiery plane crash that killed a Twin Cities pilot, and relatives have confirmed the pilot’s identity.

Seventy-seven-year-old Phil Schaffer’s experimental plane went down in a church parking lot Wednesday shortly after taking off from Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie. Schaffer had called in a fire on board just before the deadly crash.

Officials were still in the church parking lot Thursday morning, examining what remains of that small aircraft, as a family mourns the life that was lost.

One website lists Schaffer as a member of a local chapter of Experimental Aircraft enthusiasts.

Police were notified of a pilot on an in-flight plane reporting a fire on board yesterday morning just after 11.

The small, single-engine aircraft crashed near Eden Prairie Road and Glory Lane, in the parking lot of Resurrection Life Church.

Pastor Sharon Predovich was sitting in her office and saw the plane explode in the parking lot right before her eyes.

“I’ve never seen an explosion of an airplane hitting the pavement,” Predovich said. “I’m grateful there were no children outside here playing on the playground.”

Online records indicate the plane Schaffer was flying was experimental or amateur-built.

The NTSB will release the preliminary crash report in a week to 10 days. Investigators are expected to be there for several more days in Eden Prairie gathering evidence.


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