The Cessna 172 lost altitude while preparing to land and crashed in woods near Denton Municipal Airport, US Aviation Academy president and general manager Michael Parafinik said.
The pilots and instructor from the US Aviation Academy of Denton had been on a training flight to San Antonio, but controllers lost contact with the aircraft about 1:45 a.m., said Denton police officer Ryan Grelle. About an hour later, a police officer found one of the survivors as he walked around looking for help, and searchers found the wreckage shortly before 6 a.m., Grelle said.
One pilot who was in training, Xie Chengjie from Juneyao Airlines, was found dead at the scene. The flight instructor, Michael Lin, was rescued from the wreckage and taken to a hospital with serious injuries, Parafinik said. Zhao Shuran from Shenzhen Airlines was released from the hospital after being treated for minor injuries.
The pilots were in the U.S. for a yearlong program to get their instrument rating, Parafinik told The Associated Press. Authorities are unsure who was flying the plane.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Authority are investigating the crash in Denton, about 35 miles northwest of Dallas.