The paper identified the pilot as Michael Buxton of Portsmouth.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Buxton, 61, a psychologist, was born in Buffalo and got his bachelor’s degree from Canisius College.
“Mike enjoys flying small airplanes, sailing, skiing, fishing and SCUBA diving,” he wrote on his online profile.
The plane’s owner told the Norfolk newspaper that the two passengers were friends of Buxton’s from Buffalo. Their names were not immediately available.
“We have not notified relatives. We’re nowhere close to doing that,” a Virginia State Police spokeswoman said.
The passengers and pilot all died after the plane – a four-seat Mooney M20F – crashed at about 4:30 a.m. at the Norfolk Botanical Garden, near Norfolk International Airport, the paper reported.
Jim Beauchamp of Corapeake, N.C., the plane’s owner, identified the pilot as Buxton, the Pilot reported. Beauchamp told the paper that Buxton was returning from a weeklong trip to Key West with two friends from Buffalo.
State police, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.