Although some parts of a New York pilot's fatal trip to Carson City remain a mystery, investigators have learned 61-year-old James Edwardson flew out of the Long Island airport on Monday - just two days before he was killed in a fiery plane crash off Arrowhead Drive, Sheriff Kenny Furlong said.
"His family tells us his intent was to fly into numerous airports that he was interested in. Maybe he was checking in on his office here," he speculated.
Edwardson, who has several corporations in his name in his hometown of Yaphank, N.Y., was also president of FLOCO Inc., which listed 251 Jeanell Drive as its local address, said Carson City Sheriff's Sgt. Bob White. The aircraft was registered to FLOCO Inc.
"I'm not sure what that company's purpose is," White said.
Wednesday at about 12:40 p.m., witnesses reported seeing Edwardson's six-seater Cessna 337 spiraling out of control above Eagle Valley Golf Course.
White said it's possible Edwardson was going to land at the Carson City Airport, but his direction was wrong.
"So he had to circle back around to land correctly, and when he did that, the plane went into a stall and dove to the ground," he said.
On impact, the plane's fuel burst into flames. Workers nearby rushed to help, only to be held back by a second and third explosion, authorities said. Firefighters quickly extinguished the nearly one-acre fire that broke out.
Edwardson's remains will be autopsied today, and dental records will be used to positively identify him, Furlong said.
Commander John Felker, director of the Coast Guard Auxiliary out of New York City, said Edwardson was a member for at least 18 months of the volunteer organization whose primary goal is to teach boating safety and help with search and rescue.
Furlong said Edwardson also appears to have been employed by the federal government in some capacity.
He said the pilot recently applied for an upgrade to his license, but it was denied.
"The U.S. Coast Guard denied allowing him certification to fly as a representative of the Coast Guard."
Furlong said through the help of Edwardson's friend, sheriff's investigators have notified Edwardson's partner of 20 years, her daughter and his own daughter of the businessman's fate.
"His friends and relatives in Long Island said that he was a good pilot, and they were obviously shocked by the incident," he said.
Because of the plane's passenger capacity, and the destruction caused by the intensity of the fire, police were unsure Wednesday if Edwardson was alone in the aircraft.
Thursday, after talking with his family and sorting through the wreckage, Furlong said it appears he was the sole occupant.
"The family is saying he met with as many as six friends before he left, and one was expected to go with him.
"We have spoken with that one gentleman, and the family is contacting all of the remaining friends to ensure none of them did go," he said. "A search of the scene did not disclose any indication of a second occupant in the aircraft; we don't believe there was a passenger."
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