Mystery Surrounds Tragic Beech Bonanza Crash in New Mexico

Four aboard a Bonanza perish under unknown circumstances.

The FAA and NTSB are investigating the crash last Friday of a Beech Bonanza near Silver City, New Mexico, that killed the pilot and three passengers, all of whom were students at a small local charter school.

The airplane was piloted by an Albuquerque psychiatrist, Peter Hochla, who had been a pilot, according to local reports, for about ten years and used his airplane to travel to remote locations around the state. A local newspaper claimed Hochla was flying the students to see a wildfire from the air to support their studies. A story on Wednesday in the Silver City News reported that a staff member who was an acquaintance of Hochla helped "facilitate" the trip.

The model 36 Bonanza crashed near Whiskey Creek Airport, located to the southwest of Albuquerque, and New Mexico State Police said that it clipped electrical lines before crashing, but it is unknown whether Hochla was attempting to land at Whiskey Creek or if it was an emergency diversion resulting from an earlier problem.

The NTSB is investigating the accident and told reporters that the investigation into the mystery of what caused the crash might take a year to complete.

_Note: This story was updated on May 29th, 2014, to clarify that the mystery behind the crash was what had caused it. _

Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.

We welcome your comments on flyingmag.com. In order to maintain a respectful environment, we ask that all comments be on-topic, respectful and spam-free. All comments made here are public and may be republished by Flying.