The pilot and two 14-year-old passengers of a small light aircraft died on Friday when their plane crashed in the Diavolezza mountain region, near Pontresina in canton Graubünden. A 17-year-old passenger was also seriously injured. The cause of the accident is unclear.
The Graubünden policeexternal link told reporters that the Rega rescue service found the destroyed Piper PA28 four-seater plane on Friday morning below the Diavolezza chairlift at an altitude of 2,800 metres (9,186 feet). They discovered the dead pilot and two 14-year-olds inside the aircraft. A 17-year-old passenger who had been seriously injured was flown to a nearby hospital. All four were Swiss nationals.
“The flight took place during the Pro Aero Youth Camp,” police spokesman Roman Rüegg confirmed. It was its second sortie of the day. The crash occurred ten minutes into the 25-minute initiation flight, which started at 9.10am from Samedan air field.
Rüegg said the police could not confirm the cause of the accident at this stage.
Christian Gartmann, from the High Engadine flying club, said the pilot was free to choose his own route according to the weather, wind, air traffic and other factors.
The plane was being used in a flight initiation session organised by Aero-Club Switzerland, its spokesman confirmed. In all, 192 teenagers aged 14-16 were attending the youth camp, which is due to end on Saturday. Over the past 35 years, 5,000 youngsters have attended the annual camp and there have never been any serious accidents.
“My whole world has collapsed,” said Yves Burkhardt from Aeroclub Switzerland. “The young people spent a wonderful holiday week and one of the highlights was supposed to be this flight.”
Burkhardt said the pilot was a local man who was an experienced flyer.
The police do not wish to give any further information concerning the victims now. A special trauma team has been sent to look after the other children who were taking part in the camp. A religious service will also be held.
swissinfo.ch and agencies/sb