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San Juan plane crash victim identified as Apollo astronaut William Anders

caption: Left to right: Frank Borman, commander of 3-man Apollo 8 crew, William A. Anders and James A. Lovell, Jr., Dec. 21, 1968.
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Left to right: Frank Borman, commander of 3-man Apollo 8 crew, William A. Anders and James A. Lovell, Jr., Dec. 21, 1968.
AP Photo

The victim of a plane crash in waters near the San Juan Islands Friday has been identified as Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders.

Anders, who was 90 years old, took the iconic "Earthrise" photo from space in 1968.

caption: This Dec. 24, 1968, file photo made available by NASA shows the Earth behind the surface of the moon during the Apollo 8 mission.
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This Dec. 24, 1968, file photo made available by NASA shows the Earth behind the surface of the moon during the Apollo 8 mission.
William Anders/NASA via AP, File

He was piloting alone in an older model plane that crashed into the water and sank near the north end of Jones Island shortly before noon.

His son, Greg Anders, confirmed the death to The Associated Press.

In 1968, during the Apollo 8 mission, Anders and fellow astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell became the first three people to fly to and orbit the Moon.

During his career as an astronaut, Anders logged more than 6,000 hours of flying time.

caption: Col. Frank Borman, Apollo 8 astronaut with William Anders, center, and James A. Lovell, Jr., right, on the flight deck of the carrier U.S.S. Yorktown, recovery ship Dec. 27, 1968.
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Col. Frank Borman, Apollo 8 astronaut with William Anders, center, and James A. Lovell, Jr., right, on the flight deck of the carrier U.S.S. Yorktown, recovery ship Dec. 27, 1968.

The FAA said the plane he was piloting Friday was a Beechcraft T-34 Mentor.

San Juan County Sheriff Eric Peter says it crashed into the water and sank between Orcas Island and Jones Island around 11:40 this morning.

The Coast Guard and members of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife are conducting search efforts.

The National Transportation Safety Board is leading an investigation into the cause of the crash.

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