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Two die as small plane crashes near University Park Airport

The pilot and passenger of the small Piper Navajo plane both were pronounced dead at the scene by Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers.

UNIVERSITY PARK - A private plane crashed about 8:20 Thursday morning near the University Park Airport, killing two people.

The crash took place in a heavily wooded area near Barns Lane and Rock Road, approximately one mile east of the airport.

The pilot and passenger of the small 1980 Piper Navajo twin-engine plane both were pronounced dead at the scene by Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers.

"A Piper PA 31 aircraft crashed one mile east of University Park Airport in State College, Pa. at about 8:30 a.m. today," the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.

"The aircraft departed from Washington County Airport in Washington, Pa. "

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are working to determine the cause of the accident.

Penn State spokeswoman Heather Robbins said during a news conference the tower crew at the airport saw smoke coming from the plane as it approached the runway.

However, she said there was no response when officials tried to contact the pilot.

The plane, which belonged to Aero National Inc., was operated by an air ambulance company.

The coroner didn't immediately release the victims' names. He said he plans to use dental records to identify them.

Another small plane crash-landed on the runway airport eight days ago. No injuries were reported in that crash.

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