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At least 4 killed after plane crashes into Connecticut homes

NTSB's Senior Air Safety Investigator Robert Getz describes the crash site of a small private plane that crashed into two Connecticut homes. He confirms that the number of fatalities is not yet confirmed.

Between four and six people are believed to have died Friday when a small plane trying to land slammed into a pair of Connecticut homes, officials said.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Robert Gretz said at a news conference Friday evening that it was not clear whether there were two or three people aboard the plane and whether there were two or three people inside one of the damaged homes.

The pilot, Bill Henningsgaard of Medina, Wash., and his teenage son, Max, were touring colleges and were aiming for the Tweed-New Haven Airport when the plane went down on a residential street a few blocks north.

Relatives of the Henningsgaards confirmed to NBC New York that the father and son were on the plane and that they were visiting eight colleges, including Yale in New Haven.

Much of the plane's wreckage was in the basement of one of the houses.

The other house that was struck by the Rockwell International Turbo Commander 690B twin-engine turbo prop plane was vacant at the time of the 11:22 a.m. ET crash.

Gretz said there was no distress call prior to the crash, and no reports of the engine stopping or the aircraft running out of gas. The plane had fueled at nearby Teterboro Airport in New Jersey.

A 13-year-old and a 1-year-old were in one of the homes and did not escape. Their mother survived and was “devastated,” East Haven Mayor Joe Maturo said at a news conference Friday evening.

"We haven't recovered anybody at this point and we presume there is going to be a very bad outcome," East Haven Fire Chief Doug Jackson said.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said authorities were able to see two bodies in the charred wreckage but their identities were not released.

Keith Bouve

Firefighters work at the scene of the crash in East Haven, Conn.

Bill Henningsgaard — who had survived a previous plane crash, according to his brother — tried to land once at Tweed-New Haven Airport and was unable to for unknown reasons, officials said. He was making a second attempt when the plane went down, Malloy said.

In 2009, Bill Henningsgaard and his mother, Edna, survived a crash into the Columbia River near Astoria, Ore. Edna Henningsgaard is a former mayor of Astoria.

Bill Henningsgaard was a former vice president of Microsoft who was active in philanthropic causes. Max Henningsgaard was to be a senior at Lakeside School in Seattle.

There was no distress call before the crash, which left both Charter Oak Avenue homes engulfed in flames, officials said.

"It’s total devastation," Maturo said. "We are doing everything we possibly can for the mom, who is here with her priest and family."

Shaken neighbors described the moments before and after the accident.

Russell Hickson told NBC Connecticut that he noticed the plane flying eerily low over the neighborhood, which is just north of the airport.

"It went dead quiet" before it went down, Hickson said.

Greg Watras, 27, who lives seven houses away, awoke to the sound of fire engines tearing down the street and towering flames.

"It was a big fire, the biggest fire I ever seen,” he told NBC News.

Alexis Hernandez, 17, was home alone with her 12-year-old sister — who is friends with the missing 13-year-old — when she heard the crash and ran out to see a house up in flames.

“Living by an airport is so scary," she said. "The planes fly so fast and they must be really low.”

Robert Mallory, an airplane mechanic who lives nearby, told The Hartford Courant he could tell the plane was in trouble by the sound of its motor.

"It just didn't sound right," he said. "It sounded like someone stuck a stick in a lawn mower. It just stopped."

When the plane crashed, Mallory sprinted to his car and raced over to the Charter Oak Avenue homes where the plane landed, reported the newspaper. By the time he got there, the houses were on fire, pieces of the plane were strewn across the lawns, and a woman was outside, screaming for her children.

"They didn't get out," Mallory told The Courant.

Becky Bratu, Matthew DeLuca and Daniel Arkin of NBC News contributed to this report.

Two homes were destroyed when a plane crashed into an East Haven, Conn., neighborhood after attempting to land at Tweed New Haven Airport. Family members say the plane was registered to Seattle resident and former Microsoft executive Bill Henningsgaard. NBC's Michelle Franzen reports.

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