Video shows plane's fatal crash landing in Aspen, Colorado

Story highlights

  • Footage shows the plane exploding in flames as it hits the runway
  • A 54-year-old co-pilot from Mexico was killed in the crash
  • Radio traffic: A pilot missed a first attempt to land due to high winds
  • The National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation

The plane is only in the shot for a few seconds. But in that time, it goes from just another small aircraft landing at a Colorado airport to a horrific fireball.

New video from the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport may provide clues about what went wrong on January 5 when the crash killed a co-pilot. Two other people on board the small plane were injured.

The black-and-white video shows the plane exploding in flames the instant it touches the ground. As the scorched aircraft continues down the runway, it leaves a long trail of fire shooting into the sky.

The airport released images from five infrared cameras in response to an open records request filed by Aspen Journalism, which provided the video to CNN.

Witnesses said the plane flipped over, and photos showed the plane upside down on the tarmac, its fuselage charred.

The pilot of the twin-engine jet had reported high winds during a previous attempt to land, according to a recording of the air traffic control radio transmission obtained by CNN through, a flight-tracking website.

"Missed approach, N115WF.  33 knots of tail wind," the pilot is heard saying a few minutes before the crash.

FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the Bombardier Challenger 600 was coming from Tucson, Arizona. The plane originated from Toluca, Mexico, roughly 40 miles west of Mexico City, according to Flightaware.

The deceased co-pilot was identified as 54-year-old Sergio Carranza Brabata of Mexico. The Pitkin County coroner listed the preliminary cause of death as blunt force trauma.

Aspen plane crash kills co-pilot
Aspen plane crash kills co-pilot


    Aspen plane crash kills co-pilot


Aspen plane crash kills co-pilot 01:37

The injured -- the pilot and another co-pilot flying as a passenger -- were hospitalized with "moderate to severe injuries," said Alex Burchetta of the county Sheriff's Office.

Plane crashes at Aspen airport
Plane crashes at Aspen airport


    Plane crashes at Aspen airport


Plane crashes at Aspen airport 02:35

The National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation.

Two celebrities who were at the small airport in the Aspen ski resort area posted Twitter messages saying they witnessed the crash.

"So sad! Horrible plane crash we just saw happen at the Aspen airport," singer LeAnn Rimes tweeted.

Comedian Kevin Nealon tweeted: "Horrible plane crash here at Aspen airport. Exploded into flames as it was landing. I think it was a private jet. Fire truck and ambulances were on the scene within minutes."

The Aspen airport is known as a challenging place for pilots to land because of the mountains that surround the runway. The airport tarmac is often filled with private planes owned or chartered by the wealthy and famous who own vacation homes in the mountain resort community.

"Airport is closed now," Nealon tweeted after the crash. "I think I'll drive back to LA after seeing that."

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