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Beechcraft Bonanza crash in Illinois kills two elderly pilots

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A Beechcraft S35 Bonanza, registration N176Q, crashed on Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 3:15 p.m. CDT into a former gravel mine pit surrounded by marshland in Crystal Lake, Illinois killing the plane's owner, 82-year-old Paul Sanfilippo of Grayslake, Ill. and 65-year-old Hugh Scott Clark of Lake Forest, Ill. as reported on that date by the Aviation Safety Network, the Northwest Herald, the Chicago Daily Herald, and other sources.

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A spokesperson for the McHenry County Sheriff's Office revealed that both men were pilots, but it has not been determined who was flying the 1965 single-engine private aircraft with a distinctive V-shaped tail.

The older gentleman, Mr. Sanfilippo, was the president of General Aviation Consulting, a company based in Round Lake Park, Ill.

The white painted plane with red stripes was flying east in a direct line from the runway at Lake in the Hills Airport, located at 8407 Pyott Road in Lake in the Hills, a village in McHenry County, Illinois, located 38 miles northwest of downtown Chicago.

There is some doubt as to whether the aircraft had just taken off or had made a 180-degree turn and was attempting to return and land. The airport is situated at an elevation of 888 feet and has a single 3,801-foot asphalt paved east-west runway.

An attached slide show with images of the wreckage and a video clip also accompany this report.

A cross wind of 10 to 15 knots with some higher gusts kept student pilots at Blue Skies Flying Services grounded for the better part of the day, according to Margaret Gittings, the office administrator at the facility.

In order to reach the crash site, southwest of Rakow and Virginia roads, authorities had to hike about 600 feet through muddy marshland and down an embankment into an abandoned gravel pit. Construction crews who were working nearby eventually cleared a path into the pit using a bulldozer for police and fire fighters to access with all-terrain vehicles.

The Beechcraft Bonanza was first introduced in 1947. Over 17,000 of this model have been built and are still in production at a current cost of $700,000 for each plane. Only 667 of the S35 model were built between 1964-1965 with a Continental IO-520-B engine, 3-bladed propeller, higher take-off weight, longer cabin interior, optional fifth and sixth seat, a 24-volt electrical system, and new rear window.

The aircraft has a cruising speed of 203 miles per hour, a range of 254 miles without auxiliary fuel tanks, a service ceiling of 18,500 feet, and a rate of climb of 1,230 feet per minute.

Both the FAA and the NTSB are investigating this fatal accident.

Our condolences go out to the families and colleagues of the two men who were killed.

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