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FAA officials were certifying an experimental aircraft Wednesday when they witnessed the plane break apart and plunge into a field west of U-111, killing the pilot.

Described as an experienced aviator, the 41-year-old pilot was found some 20 feet north of the plane wreckage. He was identified immediately after the crash Wednesday morning, but his name was not released, pending notification of kin.In addition to the Federal Aviation Administration employees, several other witnesses reported seeing the plane circling in the area west of Salt Lake Airport No. 2 before the crash.

Brad Anthony, 27, was driving with his two children on U-111 near 9400 South when he saw the plane come apart and dive into the ground.

The experimental aircraft was circling above fields west of the airport and highway when its right wing fell off, throwing the plane into a dive to the left, he said. The plane crashed to the ground traveling north, scattering wreckage for more than 100 feet.

"The right wing just blew off and it hit the ground at speed," he said. Anthony ran into the field and found the pilot dead.

Shannon Sorensen, 32, was working in a gravel pit nearby when he noticed the plane circling the area several times. Being down in a hole, he didn't witness the crash but said he had been watching the plane for several minutes.

"To me, it was looking like it was descending," he said.

The pilot was performing maneuvers for FAA officials to certify the experimental aircraft and was the only one aboard. One witness reported the pilot was well-known and a good friend of the certification officials. West Jordan Police Chief Ken McGuire described the man as an experienced pilot.

Investigators from the city and FAA were on the scene Wednesday picking apart the wreckage to determine why the wing had come loose.

"We're looking for clues about what gave and why it crashed," said West Jordan Police Capt. B.J. Snooks. The plane went down in fields west of West Jordan and the airport in an area along U-111 that is a favorite testing area for pilots flying experimental craft.