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Report: Plane changed course before deadly Illinois crash

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) – A preliminary report on the airplane crash that killed seven people near Bloomington confirms the pilot unexpectedly changed course as he approached the airport.

Wednesday’s National Transportation Safety Board report on the April 7 crash doesn’t indicate why pilot Thomas Hileman flew higher and turned as he neared the runway. As an investigator indicated last week, the pilot showed no signs of distress in radio transmissions.

The plane was returning from the NCAA basketball championship in Indianapolis. Those killed included Hileman, Illinois State University assistant basketball coach Torrey Ward and athletic administrator Aaron Leetch.

The report indicates the plane was descending just after midnight in fog when it turned east before crashing in a nearby farm field.

The investigation continues and the final report could 12 to 18 months.