One person is dead following an airplane crash that is believed to have occurred in the early hours of Saturday morning, east of Zavalla, not far from Lake Sam Rayburn.

Sergeant David Hendry of the Texas Department of Public Safety at Lufkin said the crash occurred at around 2:00 as the aircraft was attempting to land on a private airfield just east of State Highway 147.

According to Hendry, the Piper aircraft, which was piloted by James Duke VanLue, 40, of Tomball, apparently struck trees on the north side of the airfield. However, what caused the crash is not known and the incident is under investigation by officials of the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Reliable sources in the aviation community say VanLue left David Wayne Hooks Airport in Tomball at or around midnight on Friday in a single engine Piper Saratoga aircraft with plans of heading to the private field near Lake Rayburn. However, he never arrived and it was not until after noon on Saturday before the wreckage was found.

Hendry said VanLue was pronounced dead at the scene by an Angelina County Justice of the Peace.