Plane in crash described as ‘homebuilt’

Fire officials responded to a report of a plane crash Saturday morning near the Newhall off ramp on Highway 14. Dan Watson/ The Signal.
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The plane involved in the fiery crash that left one dead Saturday has been identified as a homebuilt TM-1 Thunder Mustang, according to officials.

After crash landing near the Newhall Avenue off-ramp of Highway 14 around 10:15 a.m., the single-engine plane caught fire.

“All I know is it circled around and I heard a clicking noise above me,” Mike York, a witness of the crash, said in a previous Signal interview. “I saw that the motor wasn’t running and smoke was coming out of it.”

The plane had departed from Van Nuys Airport, just five miles away, according to Ian Gregor, public affairs manager with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Firefighters work around the smoldering wreckage of small airplane that crashed near the 14 Freeway and Newhall Avenue in Newhall on Saturday, January 04, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

“The pilot was the only person on board,” Gregor said.

Officials have not yet identified the pilot, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

Though there are no reports of injuries to anyone or damage to any structure on the ground, the plane was completely destroyed.

The Thunder Mustang is a modern 3/4-scale replica of the P-51 Mustang, a single-seat fighter plane used during World War II and the Korean War.

Federal Aviation Administration, Aviation Safety Inspector, Brian Ashton takes photographs of a tree limb and a piece of the wreckage from a small plane that crashed near the 14 Freeway and Newhall Avenue in Newhall on Saturday, January 04, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

Witnesses said the plane’s wreckage was just being collected from the scene around 10 a.m. Sunday, while both the on- and off-ramps to Newhall Avenue on northbound Highway 14 remained closed for more than 24 hours as multiple agencies worked to investigate the crash.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board as the lead agency will continue to investigate what caused the plane to crash.

“It typically takes the NTSB a year or more to determine a probable cause of an accident,” Gregor said.

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