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Plane crashes in W.Va. after missing destination

RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. (AP) -- A single-engine plane crashed in a heavily wooded area of West Virginia after the pilot apparently lost consciousness and flew hundreds of miles past the airport in Indiana where he was supposed to land.

Pilot William Huff, 61, was killed, but it was not clear if he died before the crash or as a result of it. National Guard jets chased the plane after it overshot its destination.

Huff was the only person in the Cirrus SR-22, which crashed about 10 p.m. Thursday near Ravenswood, 50 miles north of Charleston.

The plane had left York, Neb., about 4:45 p.m. Thursday and was headed to Eagle Creek Airpark near Indianapolis. According to the FAA, the plane was registered to Sequoia Airways LLC of Avon, Ind. Huff was from Indiana, according to West Virginia State Police Sgt. Michael Baylous, who could not provide a hometown.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown said air traffic controllers last talked to Huff about 7:25 p.m., when he requested permission to descend to a lower altitude. During that conversation, communication with Huff became ``garbled,' she said.

Controllers declared an emergency about 25 minutes later when they lost radio contact with him, she said.

North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesman Michael Kucharek said two National Guard F-16s were dispatched to track the plane when it failed to land at the airpark.

``Our fighters went up and observed what we term an unresponsive individual who appeared to be unconscious,' Kucharek said.

The fighters stayed with the plane until it crashed about 10 miles north of Ravenswood, 300 miles from its original destination.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

It was the third fatal air crash in West Virginia this year.