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Plane crash pilot may not have been local

Although a plane that crashed in the Los Angeles area over the weekend was registered in Grants Pass, the Josephine County airport community doubts that the owner actually had local ties.

A 1977 single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza registered to David E. Flotho crashed and caught fire in the heavily populated suburb of San Gabriel northeast of Los Angeles, The Associated Press reported. The crash happened about 4:20 p.m. Saturday, shortly after the plane departed from Brackett Field in La Verne — about 25 miles east of the crash site — en route to Van Nuys, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman told California media outlets over the weekend. The pilot was killed, but no one on the ground was injured.

A spokesman for the Los Angeles County Coroner's Department said on Monday that the pilot's identity hadn't been confirmed yet as officials were awaiting dental records.

David Traeger, owner of Pacific Aviation Northwest, the fixed-base operator that provides maintenance, training, fuel and other services at the Josephine County airport, said he was notified of the crash Saturday night and immediately started making calls to see if anyone around the airport knew the plane and its registered owner. No one could recall the man, he said.

The plane's registration documents listed the address of Wildlife Images Director Dave Siddon. Employees at the wildlife rehabilitation center said they had no information about the plane or its owner. Siddon was unavailable for comment.

State and local officials note that airplane registration in Oregon is less expensive than in neighboring states, potentially spurring plane owners to register here. However, planes that are used regularly in the state must be registered here even if the owners are based elsewhere, officials said.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.