"I was deeply saddened to learn that Senator Jim Inhofe's son Perry was killed in a plane crash this weekend," Fox News quoted Hagel as saying. "My thoughts and prayers are with Jim and Kay and their family as they mourn this terrible loss."
KWTV, Oklahoma City, reported expressions of sorrow had begun to pour in from Oklahoma officials as well.
"It is with deep sorrow that we give our condolences to Tulsa's former Mayor Jim Inhofe and his family," Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett said in a statement released Monday afternoon. "Dr. Perry Inhofe was a man of great integrity, skilled as a surgeon, and an example for all of us. His love for his family and of his profession will always be remembered. I am asking all Tulsans to remember Dr. Inhofe and keep his dear family in our prayers."
Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon said in a statement Monday evening: "It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I send my prayers and condolences to the Inhofe family. Due to yesterday's tragic events, the Inhofe family has lost a husband and father, and my friend, Senator Inhofe, has lost a son. Dr. Perry Inhofe was an accomplished orthopedic surgeon and was known as one of the best in the country. Dr. Inhofe was a man who dedicated his life to the healing of others and was a leader in his community and his loss will be felt. May Our Lord give them comfort during this mournful time."
KOCO-TV, Oklahoma City, reported the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said the younger Inhofe's plane went down Sunday 5 miles north of the Tulsa International Airport.
The Tulsa World said government records indicated the younger Inhofe was associated with a company that recently bought the plane.
Inhofe, 52, was an orthopedic surgeon in Tulsa and was a licensed pilot and flight instructor, the World said.
Tulsa International Airport officials said the pilot issued an alert Sunday afternoon, asking for immediate assistance. The plane crashed about 15 minutes after the alert.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol spokesman George Brown confirmed one person died in the crash, saying there could have been more than one fatality, but authorities only saw evidence of one, the World said.
Brown said the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration had taken the lead on the crash.
The State Patrol had not officially identified Inhofe as the victim, and Amy Elliott, Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office spokeswoman, said the office's identification of the pilot would not be possible until dental records it requested were received.
Another pilot, Justin Allison of Tulsa, who was flying minutes behind the aircraft that crashed, told the World he heard air traffic controllers report a plane ahead of him had experienced engine failure. He also was directed to climb from 2,500 feet to 5,000 feet and remain in a holding pattern.
"I couldn't hear the pilot, but I heard the tower declare an emergency for him," Allison said, "which is a red-flag raiser, because usually the pilot will declare the emergency."