A 40-year-old flight instructor was found dead in the wreckage of a plane discovered Tuesday near Springfield, police said.
Police identified the only occupant of the plane as Kent Douglas Shilling of Springfield. Shilling operated a flight school called Douglas Aviation based at Lebanon-Springfield Airport.
Preliminary autopsy results showed Shilling died of multiple blunt force trauma sustained in the crash, Washington County Coroner Len Benedict said.
According to state police at the Columbia post, a call from the state Emergency Operations Center at 4:10 p.m. said a small Piper 28 airplane had disappeared from Federal Aviation Administration radar logs about 4 miles west of Lebanon-Springfield Airport.
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Steve Oglesby, Region 11 response manager with Kentucky Emergency Management, said those logs are consulted when a plane is reported overdue.
Shilling was expected to meet with Chris Bailey, an aviator from Missouri, on Tuesday morning, said Mary Jean Blake, a receptionist at Douglas Aviation.
When Shilling didn't show up to the meetings, Bailey and Blake began to investigate his absence, thinking initially he had been delayed by weather, she said.
She said Shilling had flown to Alabama to take a plane to a student. Shilling was on his way back to the Lebanon-Springfield Airport when his plane went down, police said.
Police said they are not sure what time the crash occurred or what caused it.
Kathleen Bergen, spokeswoman for the FAA Southern Region, said FAA officials are investigating, and the National Transportation Safety Board would determine the probable cause of the crash.
Blake said that without Shilling, she doesn't know what will become of his business.
"He is Douglas Aviation. There really is no Douglas Aviation without Kent," she said.