Missing seaplane found crashed; pilot dead in wreckage

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BEDMINSTER, N.J. (AP) — A single-engine seaplane that took off from a rural airport on Tuesday and was reported missing on Thursday was found soon after crashed nearby with its pilot dead.

The only person aboard the plane was dead, Bedminster police Chief Craig Meyer said. The person was a 62-year-old man from Chester Township. Police hadn't released his name.

The amphibious plane, a Lake Aircraft LA-4-250, left Somerset Airport on Tuesday night but wasn't reported missing until Thursday morning, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Arlene Salac said.

It's possible the plane, which was spotted from a state police helicopter in a wooded area about a quarter-mile from the runway, had crashed on its return to the airport, Meyer said

The National Transportation Safety Board was investigating.

Lake Aircraft owner Armand Rivard said he was surprised the plane wasn't reported missing until Thursday if it crashed before then because it should have had a beacon that would have sent out a signal after a crash.

"All the airplanes have search beacons. They're required on all aircraft," he said. "When an airplane crashes, the beacons are automatically activated and picked up by a satellite. Every airplane has to have that. It's mandatory."

Rivard, who is in his 80s and is trying to sell his Kissimmee, Florida-based company, said he knows the owners of many of the 1,300 planes he produced. He said he was checking his records on the history of this plane.

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