A small twin-engine plane that took off this morning from the Ankeny airport crashed, killing two people. Polk County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Bill Vaughn says the plane was based at the busy airport north of Des Moines. He says preliminary information is that the plane took off this morning from the airport but had some engine problems and the pilot was trying to return to the airport when the plane crashed in an open farm field in northern Polk County.

Vaughn says he was told there were two fatalities, and so far it appears those were the two people on the plane. The Federal Aviation Administration, which investigates all plane crashes, has a crew from the National Transportation Safety Board on the way to the crash site.

The deputy’s been told only that were two fatalities, and thinks that there were only the two people on board. The plane’s tail number, like a car’s license plate, identifies its owner and airport where it’s based. The plane, with tail number N-27177, is registered to “Executive Air” there at the Ankeny airport.

It’s a twin-engine Piper Navajo, a kind of plane used by private pilots and charter operators with capacity to carry up to 6 people. In December 2003, a private pilot died and his two passengers were injured in a crash just south of that airport.