Richard Rockefeller, the son of David Rockefeller and great-grandson of John D. Rockefeller, was flying solo when his plane went down shortly after takeoff. Richard Rockefeller, son of the billionaire and prominent philanthropist David Rockefeller, was killed Friday morning when the small plane he was piloting crashed shortly after takeoff, according to a spokesman for the family.
Dr. Rockefeller, 65, was the only person on board the plane, which the authorities identified as a Piper Meridian single-engine turboprop.
The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.
Dr. Rockefeller took off from Westchester County Airport at 8:08 a.m., departing from runway 16 into dense fog and steady rain. Less than 10 minutes into the flight, the Federal Aviation Administration notified airport officials that it could not reach the pilot.
At 8:23 a.m., the local police reported that the plane had crashed less than a mile from the airport, near Cottage Avenue in the town of Harrison. It had smashed through several trees and narrowly missed an occupied house before hitting the ground and breaking into pieces, the authorities said.
Dr. Rockefeller was flying home after visiting his father, David, to celebrate his 99th birthday at the family’s estate in Pocantico Hills, a hamlet in the town of Mount Pleasant.
David Rockefeller is the grandson of John D. Rockefeller, an accounting clerk who invested into an oil refinery business and went on to lead the Standard Oil Company. He became one of the richest and most famous men in the world.
David Rockefeller is the oldest living member of the family whose name adorns countless university buildings, hospital wings, libraries and museums across the country.
Fraser P. Seitel, the family spokesman, said that Richard Rockefeller was an experienced pilot and had flown in and out of the Westchester airport many times.
Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were dispatched to the scene of the crash to investigate.
“The family is in shock,” Mr. Seitel said. “This is a terrible tragedy. Richard was a wonderful and cherished son, brother, husband, father and grandfather.”