Updated: 07/04/2014 6:20 AM
Created: 07/03/2014 10:45 AM KSTP.com
A single-engine plane crashed while landing at a northern New Mexico airport, injuring all four people aboard, including one critically.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford says the pilot was hospitalized in critical condition while the three passengers on the plane suffered less serious injuries in the Wednesday evening crash at the Las Vegas, New Mexico, airport.
Las Vegas police on Thursday identified the pilot as James Fretham, 50, and said he was airlifted to a hospital in Santa Fe.
FAA records say the plane was registered to Fretham and listed an address for him in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
Family friend Tommy Huffman said, "He always wanted to learn how to fly a plane and about 5 or 6 years ago he decided to buy a plane and learn how to fly." Huffman added, "They loved to get in it and just take off for a weekend and I know he was a very safe type person.
A neighbor, John Rosenberg, who is also a senior captain at a major airline, and an active general aviation pilot, says it's this type of plane is a high performance plane that's great for cross country travel. "To step up to a Cesna 210 early in your flying, is a pretty good leap, but a pilot who has good skills, very disciplined, gets good instruction, it would not be overwhelming to adequately manage an airplane like that."
Police identified the passengers as 49-year-old Elizabeth Fretham, 15-year-old Grace Fretham and 21-year-old Caitrin Fretham.
Lunsford says the plane was flying to Las Vegas from Ames, Iowa.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.