The president of a small charter airline in Minnesota was killed Tuesday afternoon when the two-engine plane he was flying crashed into a soybean field in Manhattan Township in Will County.
Larry Diffley, 74, of Bemidji, Minn., died in the crash, which occurred shortly before 3 p.m., about a half-mile from Gougar and Offner roads, Will County Coroner Patrick O’Neil said.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro confirmed that the pilot was the only person on board.
National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Eric Weiss said the plane was a Hawker Beechcraft BE-58. It was registered to Bemidji Aviation Services in Minnesota, a charter and cargo airline that Diffley co-owned for 36 years before the company became employee-owned in 2006, according to its website. He was the company president.
In a statement issued Tuesday night, the company expressed sympathy to Diffley’s family and said his death was a "profound loss for their family, our company and the Bemidji community."
The statement said Bemidji Aviation was cooperating with the NTSB in its investigation.
The plane appeared to be traveling south or southeast when it plummeted to the ground, leaving a path of debris several hundred yards long. Diffley was pronounced dead at the scene by the coroner’s office.