Pilot Dies in Fiery Plane Crash in Hawthorne

The pilot of an ultralight plane was killed in a fiery crash soon after takeoff from the Hawthorne Municipal Airport Monday.

Employees from Best Drilling and Pump, Inc., were working on tanks across from the site when an ultralight aircraft with a female pilot on board crashed around noon directly in front of them on West 120th Street.

Byron Mayes said he's still trying to process what happened just a few feet from where he was working.

"All of a sudden, my partner started yelling, 'Watch out, there's a plane coming!' and it looked like the plane veered up, lost control and hit a couple feet away from the truck, a couple feet away from us," Mayes said.

Mayes said he and other employees ran over to the burning aircraft and pulled the pilot, whose legs were on fire, out of the plane before they got to the fire extinguishers.

"Our first thought was getting her out, making sure she was OK," he said.

A cloud of black smoke could be seen billowing into the sky just minutes after the crash. Aerial video showed pieces of the plane scattered on the street near a large tree.


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Firefighters dispatched at 12:02 p.m. to the 3600 block of West 120th Street put out the flames and extricated the unidentified woman from the wreckage, said county fire Capt. Keith Mora.

The pilot was in full cardiac arrest when rescue crews arrived and was transported to an area trauma center, Los Angeles County Fire officials said. Unforutnately, she did not survive.

Mayes and other witnesses said the aircraft belongs to Pacific Blue Air, a light-sport aircraft training facility based at the Hawthorne Airport. Witnesses said the pilot in the crash was wearing a blue jumpsuit that is worn by Pacific Blue Air employees.

The pilot was flying the Airborne XT-912, a light-sport, weight-shift control plane, Federal Aviation Administration officials said.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were on scene investigating the crash.

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