A pilot from Acton was among four people killed last weekend when his small plane crashed in Oregon after departing from Van Nuys Airport.

Mark Gregory Aletky, 67, a certified pilot, was hired to fly a family of three to a college scouting trip to the University of Oregon. The passengers were John A. Zitting, 42, his wife, Karen Blackmore Zitting, 37, and their 17-year-old son, John Brandan Zitting.

Investigators reported that Aletky’s single-engine, six-seat 1984 Piper PA-46-310P was flying on instruments as it approached Eugene Airport. “Witnesses in Harrisburg (Oregon) described seeing the plane flying north at a low altitude when, for unknown reasons, it suddenly turned and crashed into a grass field just west of Peoria Road,” according to a statement issued by the Lynn County, Ore. Sheriff’s office.

Zitting was president of TruNorthe LLC, a construction management company in Simi Valley. Aletky was reportedly employed with the firm. His son gave a statement:

“Of all of the pilots I’ve met, he was extraordinary in his agility,” said Joseph Aletky, 30, who began taking flying lessons from his father when he was a boy. “I can’t understand it. We’ve had things happen in the air. We’ve dealt with it. He’s not the type to panic.”