BONNEY LAKE, Wash. -- Two men killed in Wednesday’s crash of a World War II-era plane in Pierce County were retired commercial pilots.
Jim Cawley retired from Delta Airlines two years ago, according to his son, Clint Cawley.
"You couldn't have two more experienced pilots piloting the aircraft," said Clint.
Jim Cawley taught Clint and his younger son Curt to fly on the family's private airstrip.
"He spread his love of flying and family to us," said Clint.
Rod Richardson had owned the plane for the last 12 years and flew it about 600 hours without a problem.
Cawley bought the plane from his friend Richardson this week. Clint Cawley said his father and Richardson flew the plane in the morning without incident.
But shortly after taking off in the afternoon, it went down about a mile from the Cawley family’s private airstrip near Bonney Lake in Buckley.
The family does not know what caused the wreck.
"We've just got to trust he made the right choice at the right time," said Clint.
Clint works as a cargo pilot in Alaska. His younger brother works in operations with a Seattle airplane tour company.
Clint said what happened to their father won't keep them out of the skies.
"He'd want us to keep flying," he said. "I'll be back in the air soon."
NTSB investigators used a crane to drag the plane wreckage out of the woods Thursday. The investigation could take months.