The father, 42-year-old John A. Zitting, mother Karen Blackmore Zitting and John Brendan Zitting, their 17-year-old son, died when the small plane they were traveling in crashed while on a college scouting trip. Pilot Mark Gregory Aletky, 67, also died on the way to the University Of Oregon.

According to a report by Oregon Live, the Linn County Sheriff’s Office said Saturday that the family hails from Thousand Oaks, Ca. and were on their way to Eugene, Or., as their son, a high school senior, was considering attending the University of Oregon. Their small plane was a 1984 Piper PA-46-310P, which reportedly crashed in a field near Harrisburg on Friday morning.

According to the Sheriff’s office, the plane left Van Nuys at 7:22 a.m. on Friday morning. Investigators later established the plane was flying on instruments and was, at the time of the crash, on approach to Eugene Airport. However, according to witnesses, the plane suddenly turned at low altitude, before it went down in a field around two miles north of Harrisburg. A report in the New York Post states that a later news report said it is currently unknown why the plane continued past Eugene Airport. The report added that the 911 Center at the Linn County Sheriff’s Office was alerted to the plane crash at 10:53 a.m. that morning.

Father was president of a construction management company

Reportedly John Zitting is the president of a construction management company, TruNorthe LLC.

He was described by Tara Harris, the company’s human resources director, as being a fun and “hands-on leader.” It turns out the plane belonged to Zitting, who had bought it – and hired the pilot – in an effort to promote his company. Harris said Aletky was employed full-time by the company.

The Zitting’s 17-year-old son, John – their only child – was reportedly a senior at the West Lake High School and was also looking at other schools, including the University of Arizona.

The pilot had extensive flying experience

According to the pilot's son, Joseph Aletky, 30, his father had “thousands and thousands” of hours of flying experience in a wide range of situations.

He added that his father also worked as a flight instructor and has taught him since he was a boy. Saying he knows he is biased in his opinion, he said that his father’s flying ability was "extraordinary," adding that he would be the guy to handle any situation.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is continuing their investigations into the incident and will be interviewing three witnesses who saw the Plane crash in the field. According to those witnesses the plane was at low altitude when is suddenly flipped over on its side and plummeted straight down to the ground. Reportedly there were strong winds in the area at the time of the crash. Due to the fact that the plane did not burn after the crash, no instrumentation was reportedly destroyed, which will be helpful to NTSB investigators.

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