SANTA FE (KRQE) - A plane crash at the Aztec Municipal Airport Saturday morning killed Michael "Mike" Arnold, the former mayor of the city and current manager of the airport.
New Mexico State Police report Arnold, 62, was alone in the single-engine aircraft when it crashed on takeoff about 11 a.m.
Police said Arnold's family lives on the airport property, witnessed the crash and called for help.
He was pronounced dead at the scene, a State Police spokesperson said.
The craft came down just feet from the runway and burned on impact leaving only metal framing and charred debris.
Arnold was mayor of Aztec, the county seat of San Juan County, from 1998-2001 and 2004-2008, according to the city's website.
"Mr. Arnold has put in numerous years of service and long hours while he was in his years of service for the people of Aztec," State Police Sgt. Micah Dearing told KRQE News 13. "It's also my understanding there were a number of people in this community who appreciated that service, so I imagine it will be devastating to quite a few people beyond the family, for sure."
Arnold was described as an experienced pilot. According to reports, there were significant wind gusts blowing across the runway during takeoff, which may have contributed to the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board has been notified and will handle the investigation into what caused the crash.
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