The CEO of Bemidji Aviation has been killed in a northern Illinois plane crash.
Authorities say 74-year old Larry Diffley died, when the plane he was piloting crashed near Joliet. There were no passengers aboard the twin-engine plane.
Those who knew him say Larry Diffley was a superb pilot. He flew out of Bemidji around noon on Tuesday. Two and half hours later he crashed near Joliet, 40-miles southwest of Chicago.
The Bemidji Airport manager says Diffley was inspecting an oil pipeline that runs from the Bemidji area into Illinois.
The crash left a debris trail the length of a football field.
Harold Van Leeuwen, Bemidji Airport: "Checking for leaks and stuff. Pretty standard… he enjoyed doing it."
Reporter: "What went wrong?"
Van Leeuwen: "That's for the NTSB and everybody to figure out. Larry was a very good pilot. Long term pilot… had flown in this environment up here for many, many years."
It's tough news for employees of Bemidji Aviation. It's a company Diffley and his partner Mark Shough had turned into an employee owned company.
Tracie Walter, Bemidji Aviation: "He was a hard worker. He wanted everyone to work hard. He grew up on a farm and I think that's why I respected him even more, because I grew up on a farm. We lost an excellent president, who was business smart and claimed he wasn't Santa Claus. But, if you worked hard for him, he'd work hard for you."
The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
Illinois authorities say after checking the pipeline, Diffley was en route to the Joliet airport to pick up a passenger, when he crashed.