Richard Rockefeller, a son of philanthropist David Rockefeller Sr. and former chairman of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund Inc., died when his plane crashed after takeoff from the Westchester County, New York, airport.

The single-engine Piper PA-46-500TP Meridian departed shortly after 8 a.m. today and went down less than two miles (3.2 kilometers) away near Purchase, New York, said an airport operations spokesman who declined to give his name. The pilot was the only one aboard, the spokesman said.

“The family is in shock,” said Fraser Seitel, a spokesman for the Rockefeller family. “It’s a terrible tragedy. Richard was a wonderful and cherished member of the family, a son, brother, husband, father and grandfather.”

Richard Rockefeller, 64, a physician who lived in Falmouth, Maine, was an experienced pilot and had celebrated his father’s 99th birthday at a dinner yesterday, Seitel said. He flew the plane to the Westchester County airport in White Plains yesterday.

Richard Rockefeller was an advisory trustee for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a philanthropic foundation begun in 1940 by the sons of John D. Rockefeller Jr., who was the son of Standard Oil Co. founder John D. Rockefeller. He is a past president of the Rockefeller Family Fund.

Rockefeller was active in the Doctors Without Borders charitable group and most recently was working with veterans on treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder, Seitel said.

The Piper turboprop is considered a high-performance aircraft. It has a maximum cruising speed of 260 knots (482 kilometers per hour) and ceiling of 30,000 feet, according to the Piper Aircraft Inc. website.