The Rockefeller family, after celebrating the 99th birthday of its billionaire patriarch David, is now planning a funeral for his doctor son after a morning plane wreck.
Richard Rockefeller died at the controls of his private Piper Meridian PA-46 when the single-engine craft crashed Friday in miserable weather conditions minutes after takeoff at Westchester County Airport.
Though several other flights were canceled due to the rain, fog and poor visibility, veteran pilot Rockefeller opted to take off at 8:08 a.m. from Runway 16 — and quickly dropped off the radar, authorities said.
Rockefeller, 65, was found dead amid wreckage of his plane, which barely missed hitting a house and building at Stratford Stables, just a half-mile from the White Plains airport.
The crash happened so quickly that Rockefeller never had time for a mayday call, officials said. A piece of the doomed plane’s wing dangled from a sheared pine tree as police in Purchase, N.Y., awaited the arrival of National Transportation Safety Board investigators.
Other large trees in the plane’s path were knocked askew, with one aircraft wheel thrown about 50 feet away from the main wreckage. No one on the ground was injured.
Rockefeller, the well-respected great-grandson of Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller Sr., was a regular flier and had decades of flight experience, according to a family spokesman.