Jet crashes on landing at Aspen, Colorado, airport, killing 1

Updated 8:45 AM EST, Mon January 6, 2014

Story highlights

NEW: Two others aboard were pilot and a co-pilot traveling as a passenger

Deceased identified as 54-year-old co-pilot from Mexico

Pilot missed first approach due to high winds, according to radio traffic

Crashed jet was a Bombardier Challenger 600 coming from Tucson, Arizona

(CNN) —  

A small plane crashed while trying to land at the Aspen, Colorado, airport Sunday, killing the co-pilot and injuring two others aboard, said Alex Burchetta with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.

Witnesses described a fiery scene as the plane flipped over and became engulfed in flames.

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 FlightAware.com, a flight-tracking website.

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

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.

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.

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.”

Burchetta said the cause of the crash is under investigation.

“Right now, we have no indication that there was anything wrong prior to landing,” Burchetta said.

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

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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CNN’s Aaron Cooper, AnneClaire Stapleton, Janet DiGiacomo and Scott Thompson contributed to this report.