A fellow pilot says the Oceanside crash victim was a retired United Airlines pilot.
The plane's registered owner, Edward C. Judd, 83, was killed in the crash on Monday morning near the intersection of state Route 76 and El Camino Real, according to the pilot, who asked not to be identified. The man told NBCSanDiego that he believed he was the last person to talk to Judd.
The pilot was flying alone in the plane when he was killed, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Judd was a former World War II pilot as well, according to the pilot who know him, who added that Judd was one of the most experienced pilots that flew out of the Oceanside Airport.
According to witnesses who saw the plane take off, it appeared that an engine went out. The fellow pilot said that Judd wasn't flying anywhere in particular; rather, he was just taking the plane for a quick spin to keep the engine serviceable.
Judd's address is listed in a gated community in San Clemente, not far from President Richard Nixon's former residence.
The small plane, possibly a twin-engine Beechcraft Baron, crashed and burned in a field near Oceanside Airport around 11 a.m. Tuesday, according to FAA officials.
Michael Drake of the San Diego County Department of Public Works told a local television news reporter that there was a lot of smoke and fire visible after the aircraft came down. The crash occurred very near San Luis Rey Elementary School, which was not in session, according to the North County Times.
Aerials of the crash site showed a team of firefighters spraying foam on the wreckage with some flames still visible. The tail appears to still be intact. The ground around the plane was scorched by fire.
FAA safety investigators are en route to the scene, according to Ian Gregor, spokesperson for the FAA Western-Pacific region.
Oceanside is an airport where pilots need to be careful when they’re flying around, according to NBCSanDiego anchor Jason Austell, who flew in helicopters around San Diego for years covering traffic. The airport is just north of SR-76, west of the old drive-in theater, and is considered an uncontrolled airport, meaning it doesn’t have a control tower. Instead, pilots communicate their intentions on an open frequency.