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Plane down in Newcomb

NEWCOMB - Two men are confirmed dead as a result of the plane crash at the base of 4,609-foot-high Santanoni Peak in Newcomb.

The wreckage of the Piper Cherokee 140 single engine aircraft carrying its owner Dan Wills, 48 of North Bangor and Ronald Rouselle, 66 of Malone was recovered by a search party Tuesday afternoon. The search was conducted by the New York State Police Aviation and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Aviation.

Police say the search for the plane began by helicopter late Monday evening and continued through the night.

The flight was en route from Saratoga to Malone and left the Saratoga Springs airport on Sunday afternoon and never arrived at its destination at the Malone-Dufort Airport. The flight was reported missing on Monday afternoon.

An investigation conducted by the New York State Police, working with the Federal Aviation Administration, determined that the aircraft was last at 4,200 feet in elevation and was headed towards terrain at 4,600 feet in elevation near the Tahawas mining area near the Santanoni Mountain Range.

According to Malone-Dufort Airport Manager Mark Besio, both men had pilot's licenses and Wills has been flying out of the Malone airport for the 18 years he's worked there.

"Apparently, there was no radio contact whatsoever that he was in any kind of trouble," Besio said. "Of course, no one is going to know, until the (National Transportation Safety Board) is down there and (Federal Aviation Administration), who was actually flying the plane."

Besio said the plane was in "excellent running condition" and Wills was very familiar with flying in the area.

"Danny's flew that route so many times that there would be no chance of him being too low because he knows that like the back of his hands," Besio said. "He's done that flight a lot, as far as I know."

"He's basically the driving force of aviation in this entire area," Besio said. "I wouldn't even want to know how many students he's taught."

Dave Winchell, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, referred all calls to state police.

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