HARDING, N.J. — Two New York City investment bankers are among the five dead in a small plane crash on one of the New York City area’s busiest highways.

Greenhill & Co. says two managing directors were aboard. They were 45-year-old Jeffrey Buckalew and 36-year-old Rakesh Chawla.

Buckalew is the registered owner of the single-engine plane and has a pilot’s license. Greenhill says his wife and their two children also were aboard.

The FAA says the plane departed Teterboro Airport for DeKalb Peachtree Airport near Atlanta today when there was a garbled transmission and it disappeared from the radar.

The plane crashed on Interstate 287 in Harding, N.J.

12:26 p.m.

HARDING, N.J. — A small plane headed for Georgia crashed today on one of the New York City area’s busiest highways, spiraling out of control, losing a wing, hitting the wooded median strip and exploding. At least three people, all on board, were killed.

The death toll in the crash on Interstate 287 could be as high as five, State Police Lt. Stephen Jones said. There were no casualties on the ground, he said.

Wreckage was scattered over at least a half-mile-wide area, with a wing found lodged in a tree of a home about a quarter-mile away, near a highway entrance ramp.

Helicopter footage from News 12 New Jersey showed charred wreckage stretching across the median and the highway, a heavily used route that wraps around the northern and western edges of the New York City area. Both sides of the highway were shut down.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the Socata TBM-700 single-engine turboprop had departed from nearby Teterboro Airport when it disappeared from radar. It was headed for DeKalb Peachtree Airport near Atlanta and was registered to an address on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Chris Covello of Rockaway Township said he saw the plane spin out of control from the car dealership where he works in Morristown, near the site of the crash.

“It was like the plane was doing tricks or something, twirling and flipping. It started going straight down. I thought any second they were going to pull up. But then the wing came off and they went straight down,” he said.

David Williamson, 19, was doing maintenance at a golf course in Morristown when he spotted a plane in trouble, with smoke coming off both sides of the wings.

“It was really scary,” he said.

When the plane crashed, he said, it sent up a “huge plume of thick black smoke.”