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Pilot unconscious as teenage girl flies on

Alton, New Hampshire - A small plane whose pilot had apparently passed out from carbon monoxide fumes flew over parts of three states yesterday with a untrained teenage passenger at the helm before crashing. The pilot and girl were killed.

Airborne searchers spotted the wreckage, a suitcase and duffel bags in woods near Lake Winnipesaukee, where the temperature was well below zero. A sheriff's deputy confirmed the fatalities.

The drama began yesterday morning when air traffic controllers in New York tried to coach the girl into landing the single-engine plane, said an official at Sikorsky Airport in Stratford, Connecticut.

The controllers said she was becoming lethargic, possibly from fumes that had affected the pilot. Controllers said he was apparently suffering from carbon-monoxide poisoning.

Sikorsky Airport was notified at 11:30 am that the plane was 10 miles away with an unconscious pilot and a female passenger with no flight experience in control. Neither Sikorsky nor Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, 60 miles to the north, were able to contact the plane as it headed toward Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

The plane, believed to be a Piper Cherokee, crashed at 1.38pm, a federal aviationspokesman said. The authorities did not know where the plane was flying from or where it was headed.