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Pilot found dead in plane crash in central Minn. identified

SAUK CENTRE, Minn. -- A 50-year-old pilot was found dead after his single-engine experimental aircraft was discovered Wednesday morning, Jan. 24, after the plane was reported missing on Tuesday, the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office said.

Authorities later Wednesday identified the pilot as  Matthew James Skwira, of Rice.  

Authorities were notified about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday that the aircraft hadn’t returned to the Sauk Centre Airport, where the pilot was to practice take-offs and landings, the sheriff’s office said. The plane was last seen around 3:30 p.m.

The sheriff’s office and Sauk Centre police began a search of the area with the assistance of the Federal Aviation Administration and cellular telephone carriers to try to pinpoint the aircraft’s location. Poor weather deterred an aerial search of the area, the sheriff’s office said.

With information from the FAA, Sauk Centre firefighters assisted in a ground search and located the aircraft around 8:25 a.m. Wednesday.

The FAA is conducting a crash investigation.

Sauk Centre is about 25 miles southeast of Alexandria along Interstate 94.

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