MESA, Ariz. -- Two people were killed when a small plane crashed at the end of a runway at Mesa's Falcon Field Tuesday morning.
The kit aircraft Rans S12 reportedly was taking off to the east when it crashed about 8 a.m. It's not clear if there was a mechanical failure or some other issue. Bruce Haffner, reporting from the Fort McDowell Casino News Chopper, said he did not see any skid marks.
A man who lives near the scene said he heard two loud sputters, what sounded like an engine trying to restart, and then a third sputter followed by a loud bang. He saw a huge plume of smoke when he looked outside. That smoke plume was visible for quite some distance.
The plane went down at the end of Runway 4. The pilot and his single passenger were killed.
Falcon Field Airport Operations tentatively identified the victims from their records and from surrounding circumstances, but positive identification is pending results from the Office of the Medical Examiner.
According to Capt. Forrest Smith of the Mesa Fire Department, it was the tower that sounded the alarm.
"Every day, our fire crews out here at the stations do drills on these types of accidents," Smith explained. "When this plane went down, we had one of our units here, which is an airport rescue firefighting truck. ... That [truck] is specially designed for aircraft firefighting."
Crews were able to knock down the fire relatively quickly. No injuries were reported on the ground.
Aerial video from 3TV's two news helicopters showed the devastating wreckage on an embankment next to a golf course and several homes. A parachute also was visible on the ground next to the what was left of the plane.
Falcon Field, one the busiest general aviation airports in the country, is south of McDowell Road between Greenfield and Higley roads.