Maj. Gen. Joseph D. Brown IV was piloting a Cessna 210 Friday, with his wife, Sue Brown, as his passenger, when the plane crashed near the Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport. The couple and their dog were killed in the crash.
No one on the ground was injured in the crash, but the single-engine plane came close to hitting houses in a retirement community, according to witnesses.
“Another 50 feet, and they would have been in my bedroom,” resident Bruce Ward told ABC News affiliate WVEC-TV.
“The fellow next door came knocking on our door, and he says, ‘You got a fire extinguisher? There’s a plane just crashed next to your house,'” Ward said.
Virginia State Police said officials from the Federal Aviation Administration responded Friday. The crash scene was secured overnight until authorities from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived, according to state police.
The cause of the crash was not yet known.
Brown joined the Air Force in 1980 and rose through the ranks. Since October 2010, he had been the commandant of The Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy in Washington, D.C.
Throughout his career, he had more than 4,300 hours of experience piloting a variety of aircraft, including B-1s and B-52s.
In a joint statement, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen Mark A. Welsh III mourned the loss of a couple who “dedicated their lives in service to our nation.”
“Their loss will be felt across our Air Force and joint team,” they said.