PORTERVILLE, California. (KSEE) – A pilot is dead after crashing a small private plane at the Porterville airport, according to the Porterville Fire Department.
The crash happened just before 2:30 pm Monday at the end of the runway at the Porterville Municipal Airport.
A witness says that shortly after takeoff, the plane nose dove into the ground and burst into flames, tragically taking the life of the pilot inside.
“I was standing at the job sight right across the way here and basically saw a plane sputter. The engine quit, the left wing dipped down and it went straight into the ground. And then, it went nose down into the ground and then a huge fireball, a big fire ball,” said Arlan Williams.
Williams was working near the Porterville airport when he saw a plane crash right before his eyes.
“It just was like that and dived real quick… Really really black smoke when fuel burns it’s black,” described Williams.
A broken windshield is all that is left of the single-engine Vans RV-6A.
Fire officials say the pilot, who was alone in the aircraft, died in the crash.
The pilot’s name and age has not been released by authorities at this time.
The airport was shut down immediately after the crash and will be closed for at least 12 hours as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigate and clean up.
“The NTSB is en route to complete their investigation, they should be here either today or tomorrow. As far as the cause, that probably won’t be known for a while,” said Porterville Fire Deputy Chief Brian Cogburn.
And while the cause is still unknown, Williams is still shocked by what he witnessed earlier today.
“ I was sad and I said a prayer for the pilot because I knew that when a plane goes nose-first into the ground there is no surviving it,” said Williams.