Troy Brothers of Fraser, Mich., was about to report to the U.S. Naval Academy after being accepted as a midshipman, neighbors told the Detroit Free Press.
Brothers, his stepfather, James Haley, 58, and Jamie Jose, 34, a firefighter who lives in Lyon, Mich., were killed instantly in Friday's crash, officials said. Sandra Haley, 53, died soon after being taken to a hospital.
Officials at the Oakland County International Airport in Waterford said Brothers radioed the tower shortly after he took off, saying he needed to return to the airport.
"We're a little overweight," he can be heard saying on a recording authenticated by a federal investigator. "We're going to have to come back and land on this."
David VanderVeen, the county director of central services, said the plane crash-landed in a field just beyond the runway and then flipped over and burst into flames.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.