January 17, 2012 3:26:00 PM
PHILADELPHIA -- Authorities say a Meridian, Miss., businessman died when a small twin-engine plane crashed in east-central Mississippi.
Philadelphia Police Chief Dickie Sistrunk identified the victim -- and the plane's pilot -- as Richard Howarth Jr., 48, of Meridian. Howarth was the only one aboard the plane.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters told The Associated Press that the pilot was killed Monday when the plane crashed after taking off from Philadelphia Municipal Airport in Neshoba County.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.
Authorities said Howarth was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, which occurred at about 12:40 p.m. Monday. Authorities said the plane crashed in a field about 300 yards east of the runway.
FAA records show the twin-engine, propeller-driven Piper Aerostar is registered with another Howarth company, M&H Ventures LLC in Missoula, Mont. Howarth also was the founder and owner of HD Machines in Meridian and Tuscaloosa, Ala.
A former Navy pilot, Howarth flew for FedEx for 16 years.
Dan Cumberland, manager of the Philadelphia airport, said he wasn't sure of the plane's intended destination when it took off from Philadelphia.
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