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Firefighters respond to a deadly airplane crash in Loveland on May 15, 2019. (Handout)
Firefighters respond to a deadly airplane crash in Loveland on May 15, 2019. (Handout)

Witnesses to the deadly crash of a twin-engine plane in Loveland last month say the aircraft was on fire before it went down near the Northern Colorado Regional Airport.

The National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report on the May 15 crash that a fellow pilot saw the plane on fire moments before it slammed into the ground near perimeter fencing at the Loveland airport.

Another witness on the ground told air-crash investigators that the right wing of the Beech 60 propeller plane was on fire.

Thomas Lawson, 69, from Golden, died in the crash. The plane took off from Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield about 12:30 p.m. the day of the crash and went down roughly 20 minutes later.

Lawson apparently told air traffic controllers that he had an “engine out and smoke in the cockpit” just before crashing, according to recordings of radio traffic archived on Someone relayed back that they saw his plane on fire. Seconds later it went down.

Winds were light and skies were clear when the crash happened, according to the NTSB report. It can take a year or more for the agency to complete its investigation.

Lawson is the first person to die this year in a Colorado aircraft crash.

In 2018, five people died in aircraft crashes in the state, including a woman who died in a hard landing of a hot air balloon in Park County.

More than 70 people have died in Colorado aircraft crashes since 2014.

Jesse Paul

The Colorado Sun — Desk: 720-432-2229 Jesse Paul is a political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is...