ECTOR COUNTY, TX (KWES) - The Goldsmith man killed Wednesday night when he crashed a single-engine plane into a concrete silo had previously been recognized by aviation officials as an experienced pilot, records revealed.
Clayton Ray Chennault, 46, was included in the national Airmen Certification Database in 2013 by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The database is accessible through the agency's website and lists certified pilots who have met or exceeded educational, licensing and medical standards established by aviation officials. The standards have "evolved over time" in an attempt to reduce pilot errors that lead to deadly crashes, the agency said.
The cause of Wednesday night's fatal accident remains undetermined, according to National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials.
"We are in the very early stages of the investigation," NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said Thursday. "These investigations are complex. It could take up to a year to 18 months to complete."
Investigators have not ruled out any contributing factors, he added, including weather.
Chennault, the pilot and sole occupant of a two-seat Cessna 150K aircraft, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, according to Department of Public Safety (DPS) records.
Officials said the small plane struck a concrete silo at a Cemex cement plant in the 16000 block of West Murphy Street.
Preliminary NTSB reports listed the time of the accident as approximately 7 p.m., Knudson said. Local authorities reported responding to the crash site around 9 p.m.
FAA records listed the plane Thursday as "damaged beyond repair."
The registered owner of the totaled aircraft is listed in federal databases as LM Air Patrol Service, Inc. Representatives for the Midland-based company were unavailable for comment.
Witnesses and area residents who saw the plane flying overhead in the moments before it crashed claimed it was hovering notably "low to the ground."
NTSB and FAA officials were unable to confirm the aircraft's pre-crash altitude, flight path and destination, only revealing it appeared to be traveling eastbound.
"I live right down the street [from the crash site]," West Odessa resident Esteban Reyes said. "It could have hit my house."