Officer dies in plane crash

EDINBURG – Federal officials are investigating a plane crash Sunday that killed an off-duty state police officer.

Timothy J. Cowper, 55, of Middle Grove, a senior investigator who worked for the state police for 30 years, was piloting the plane and was alone in it, authorities said.

The crash occurred at 3:50 p.m. in a wooded area adjacent to Tange Road near the Plateau Sky Ranch Airport.

According to a news release from the state police, witnesses notified 911 that a single-engine plane had experienced difficulty and crash-landed.

Authorities said the plane crashed on the northern side of the Great Sacandaga Lake, north of the Batchellerville Bridge.

State Police, the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department, the Edinburg Volunteer Fire Department and emergency medical services responded to the scene and found a badly damaged small plane and Cowper’s body in the wreckage, authorities said.

Cowper was an experienced pilot, authorities said.

An investigation is being conducted by the state police in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

The cause of the crash is not yet known, authorities said.

According to the FAA, Cowper was the operator of a Pitts Special S-1E aircraft.

“Because the aircraft was engulfed in fire, local authorities are unable to determine the type of aircraft [or] registration yet,” Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the FAA, said this morning. “The FAA and NTSB will investigate. The NTSB will determine probable cause.”

She said the FAA will provide additional information later.

Cowper was assigned to division headquarters in Albany, according to the news release from state police.

Police released no other information this morning.