Two people were killed when their single-engine aerobatic plane crashed shortly after takeoff Wednesday from Santa Monica Airport and burst into flames.
The red, two-seat Marchetti SF-260 airplane, registered to Malibu-based Wingspan Inc., crashed about 5 p.m. at the west end of the runway, police and airport officials said. The identities of the two victims were being withheld until family members could be notified.
Witnesses said the plane was immediately in trouble.
Crista Worthy was driving along Donald Douglas Loop, which circles the airport runways, when she saw the plane about 500 feet in the air. "The aircraft slowed down and began to roll and head straight down," she said. "I knew there was no way he was going to survive that."
One man, who lives about 100 yards from the crash site, said he also watched the plane fall.
"I saw this red plane just go nose down," said the resident, who did not want to be identified. "Then a big crash and fire and smoke."
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident.
Times staff writer Sam Quinones contributed to this report.