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Coroner IDs pilot instructor killed in stunt-plane crash

Benjamin Anderson Soyars III, 37, of Las Vegas, was the instructor pilot who was killed when a single-engine, stunt-ride airplane crashed Saturday near Jean, the Clark County coroner’s office said Monday.

Steven Anthony Peterson, 32, of Rohnert Park, California, was the other person who died in the crash of an Extra EA300 registered to Vegas Extreme Adventures LLC, the coroner’s office said Sunday.

The coroner’s office said Soyars and Peterson both died of blunt force injuries during the accident.

The plane left Henderson Executive Airport around 4 p.m. Saturday, according to a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman.

On its website, the Vegas Extreme Adventures company, also known as Sky Combat Ace, offers instructional aerobatic stunt flights and air tours, and in some cases allows customers to fly the aircraft with an instructor’s supervision. Prices range from nearly $300 to $2,000.

Calls by the Review-Journal to the company’s president, Richard “Tex” Coe, a former Air Force F-16 fighter pilot, were not returned Monday. A sign taped to the company’s entrance at 1420 Jet Stream Drive in Henderson states Sky Combat Ace’s office will be closed until May 9.

It’s unclear who was controlling the aircraft at the time of the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA are investigating. A preliminary report from the safety board’s staff had not been released by Monday morning. The process can take five to 10 days.

“I cannot say who was in control at the time of the accident, as that would be speculation,” company spokesman Megan Fazio told The Associated Press. “We won’t have the results until the FAA releases them following the completion of the investigation.”

Soyars was certified as an airplane transport pilot with commercial privileges for single-engine airplanes over land. His FAA transport pilot and flight instructor certificates were issued in 2012.

He was a veteran pilot with experience in competition and air show flying, according to the company’s website.

When the plane didn’t return at the expected time, which wasn’t specified, company employees reported it missing to the airport’s control tower and launched an aircraft for search and rescue operations, according to a company statement.

Police and emergency crews responded to the area after receiving a call about a small-engine plane that crashed about 5 p.m., Las Vegas police said Saturday.

Clark County Fire Engine 65 was the first unit to arrive on the crash scene around 6 p.m. Saturday, Deputy Fire Chief John Steinbeck said Sunday. The crew found two deceased people, one still in his seat and the other thrown 40 feet from the plane.

The crash occurred about 4 miles east of Las Vegas Boulevard and a half mile south of 8 Mile Road, a mining road.

“On behalf of all Vegas Extreme Adventures employees and staff, we would like to express our deepest condolences to the families who have lost loved ones and have been affected by this unfortunate accident. Vegas Extreme Adventures is working closely and cooperating with the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board to determine the cause of the accident,” a statement said.

The company, which also operates in San Diego, has provided instructional aerobatic airplane rides to the general public since 2011 and has conducted more than 15,000 flights over the past five years, the statement said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact Keith Rogers at krogers@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0308. Find @KeithRogers2 on Twitter.

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