Richard Rockefeller WireImage
 
Richard Rockefeller, a noted doctor and philanthropist, died Friday morning when a plane he was piloting crashed near Westchester County Airport, authorities said.

Mr. Rockefeller, a great-grandson of Standard Oil Company co-founder John D. Rockefeller, was the only person on board, authorities said. There were no other injuries.

The plane, bound for Portland, Maine, crashed shortly after taking off, at around 8:10 a.m., airport officials said.

Mr. Rockefeller, 65 years old, was an advisory trustee of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. He taught medicine in Portland from 1982 to 2000, according to the fund's website.

He served as the chairman of the board of advisors for Doctors Without Borders for 21 years, before stepping down in 2010. He helped set up the organization's presence in the U.S. and helped it secure funding, the organization said.

He had field assignments with the group in South America, Africa and Southeast Asia.
Mr. Rockefeller was in Westchester to celebrate the 99th birthday of his father, David Rockefeller, said family spokesman Fraser Seitel. He was flying to his home in Maine.
Emergency vehicles and personnel near the crash. AP

"It's a terrible tragedy," Mr. Seitel said. "The family is in shock. Richard was a terrific family member and it's terribly sad."

The National Transportation Safety Board said it would investigate the cause and sent an investigator to the crash site on Friday.

Mr. Rockefeller was flying a Piper PA-46 aircraft, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The fixed-wing single engine plane was manufactured in 2001 and was registered to Mr. Rockefeller, according to FAA records. He was an experienced pilot who had been flying for many years, Mr. Seitel said.

The plane left the airport at 8:08 a.m. Moments later, air-traffic controllers reported that it fell off their radar and that they lost contact.

The plane crashed at 120 Cottage Lane in Purchase, N.Y., Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said. He added that the Rockefeller family was dealing with "an absolute tragedy."

The plane struck several trees on the property and narrowly missed a house, which had two people inside, officials said.

The plane has a 122 gallon fuel tank that was likely full, but there was no fire on the ground, officials said.
"We're very fortunate that there was no fire that was a result of this crash. It was in very close proximity of the house," Harrison police Chief Anthony Marraccini said.

Due to weather conditions on Friday morning, pilots had to know how to fly by their instruments, said Peter Scherrer, the airport's manager. He called Mr. Rockefeller "a seasoned pilot."

"Obviously it was poor weather conditions…very foggy," he said. "Those are extreme conditions for the airport."

In those cases, the pilot makes the call about whether there should be flying restrictions, Mr. Scherrer said.
Mr. Rockefeller most recently worked on treatments for post-traumatic stress syndrome for wounded veterans, Mr. Seitel said.

Source: http://online.wsj.com/articles/richard-rockefeller-dies-in-plane-crash-near-westchester-county-airport-in-new-york-1402674448