A single-engine plane Saturday slammed into a wooded area shortly after taking off in a dense fog, killing the pilot and both passengers on Christmas Eve, Westchester County Airport officials said.

The plane, based at the Westchester County Airport in Harrison, disappeared from airport radar screens about 10:45 a.m. and was found 45 minutes later by local officials, said airport manager Joel Russell.The bodies of two men and a woman were found inside the mangled craft, he said. Their names were not immediately released so their relatives could be notified.

"All three people aboard the craft were killed," Russell said.

Russell said records indicated the pilot had filed a Federal Aviation Administration flight plan at the airport reporting his destination was Montpelier, Vt.

There was no immediate indication of what caused the piston-driven craft to crash, but the dense fog blanketing much of the New York metropolitan area was being investigated as possibly a key factor, officials said.

"The plane apparently experienced difficulty immediately after takeoff," Russell said. "Due to the heavily wooded location of the crash site, the craft was not found until 11:30 a.m."

There were no houses or people in the vicinity of the wreckage, which was located about 1 mile south of the county airport, officials said.

The accident was under investigation by FAA, county and airport officials.