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Authorities are trying to figure out how a small plane managed to crash at a major international airport and go undetected for as long as six hours.
A single-engine Cessna 172 crashed early Tuesday morning at Nashville International Airport and burst into flames, killing the pilot. It went unnoticed until being seen just before 9am by the pilot of a large commercial jet taxiing by the wreckage.
It was not discovered until 9am – well after sunrise, when a plane attempting to take off spotted the wreckage and reported it.
Socked in: The pilot attempted to land late at night in heavy fog and apparently crashed about 3am Tuesday
The wreckage of the plane can be seen here from the air. It appears that the aircraft burst into flames after crash-landing
Officials have remained tight-lipped about the accident. The pilot has not been identified, but the plane was registered to the Windsor Flying Club, in Ontario, Canada, according to reports.
The crash did not delay commercial flights into or out of the airport – jets used the other three runways.
The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating how the crash went unnoticed for several hours, WTVF-TV reports.
Footage from the scene showed the burnt out hull of a plane sitting just to the right of one of the airport’s main runways.
Radio transmissions aired on WSMV, detailed the confusion on the ground shortly after the charred aircraft was first noticed. The tower had no idea what had happened.
‘Just to verify, there is debris on the field just before you get to [runway] two center?’ The tower asked. ‘Is it off the runway?’
‘Roger,’ confirmed the pilot.
A small private airplane: This Cessna-172 single-engine plane flew from Ontario to Nashville and tried to land in heavy fog
Dead: The pilot, still unidentified, was killed in the crash
‘He says it’s about 500 feet from the approach… it appears that something may have gone off the right side of the runway,’ the tower continued.
Airport operations then scrambled to mount a response, temporarily closing the airport.
In an even more bizarre twist, an air traffic controller told someone sent to investigate the scene not to radio the findings back to the tower, but to call on a private phone line.
A call placed to Nashville Airport by MailOnline seeking further comment was not returned.
The unidentified pilot, in his late 30s and licensed to fly since 1989, according to Windsor Flight Club president Richard Gillies, did not survive the crash.
‘He was a member in good standing, his license was in good standing and he was qualified to fly at night,’ Mr Gillies told MailOnline.
Sprawling: Nashville International Airport as seen from above
The pilot had flown WFC planes before, had checked-in, rented the plane and done everything the right way, said Mr Gillies.
‘There’s nothing surrounding this occurrence that is out of the ordinary,’ he added.
Outside of the crash, which the seasoned pilot said has never happened in the organization’s 77-year history.
‘We’ve been training pilots and renting aircraft since 1944 and we’ve never had an accident of this magnitude,’ said Mr Gillies.
It is not known if the deceased pilot was married or had any family, his name is being withheld until next of kin, if they exist, can be notified, Mr Gillies added.
The National Transportation Safety Board has yet to comment on the accident, but it is believed weather may have played a part. The investigation is ongoing.
Heavy fog blanketed the Nashville region, including the airport, overnight and into the morning.