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Small plane crashes near Festus airport

A small plane crashed near the Festus airport, as shown in this KTVI photo from Friday, Sept. 21, 2018.

JEFFERSON COUNTY • Police have identified a father and son who were killed in a plane crash Friday near Festus after electrical problems made it hard for them to see the runway. 

The sheriff's office identified them as Michael G. Metzger, 56, of Hillsboro and his son, Jacob A. Metzger, 20, through dental records. Jacob Metzger lived in Iowa. 

Michael Metzger, a pilot for American Airlines, had been flying the small plane back from New York to refurbish in Festus, where they had a hangar, when the plane crashed about 2 a.m. Friday about 200 to 300 yards from the runway. 

Before trying to land, Metzger texted his fiancée and asked her to stand with flashlights on the runway so he could see where he was going, according to police. The two were texting back and forth, police said.

Police said lights at the airport are not on throughout the evening, but pilots can activate something on their radios to turn the lights on once they get close. Without electrical power, the pilot could not activate the lights.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

Born in Kansas and raised in New York, Michael Metzger started flying planes when he was 13, according to an obituary. He served in the U.S. Army, Air Force and Iowa National Guard, flying medical evacuation helicopters. He also flew medical evacuation helicopters for the University of Iowa hospital. 

He flew commercially for American Airlines after he retired from the military. He was an officer with the Missouri Commemorative Air Force. 

Michael Metzger is survived by three children and his fiance. A memorial and funeral services are set for Tuesday in Iowa City and a private family service will be held in New York this weekend. 

Jacob Metzger was born in Seattle and always wanted to be a pilot like his father, according to an obituary. The pair spent days refurbishing cars, boats and planes. 

Jacob Metzger was preparing for flight school and had piloted the plane for two hours Thursday. He was posthumously granted admission to the American Airlines Cadet Academy. 

He is survived by his mother and three siblings. 

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Reporter covering breaking news and crime by night. Born in Algeria but grew up in St. Louis. Previously reported for The Associated Press in Jackson, Mississippi and at the Wichita Eagle in Wichita, Kansas.