Pilot Dead After ‘Experimental Homebuilt’ Plane Crashes In California

One person is dead after an “experimental homebuilt” single-engine plane crashed on Saturday afternoon a block away from a Southern California airport.

The incident occurred near the intersections of Auburndale and West Rincon streets in Corona, located about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles around 12:40 p.m. The plane went down just shortly after taking off from the Corona Municipal Airport.

The crash caused a small vegetation fire that was extinguished by Corona firefighters a short time later.

“A general aviation aircraft crashed shortly after departure from Corona Municipal Airport in California,” the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement. “Only the pilot was on board.”

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the investigation will focus on the pilot, their background, and the aircraft. Investigators will also look into the weather forecasts, recordings of any air traffic control communications, surveillance video, and witness statements.

Firefighters encouraged the public to avoid the area, around 50 miles east of central Los Angeles, warning that it would “remain closed for some time.”

According to the NTSB, the plane is described as a Van’s Aircraft RV-8, which is sold in kit form and is known to have a “fighter-like feel” with “center-line seating” that can accommodate taller people up to 6’7 in height and 125lb of baggage.

The manufacturer indicates that it is the fastest model of RV, with a maximum speed of about 220mph. The plane is designed for aerobatics and used in intermediate competitions.

Pilots build the aircraft themselves, a process that the manufacturer says can take up to 1,500 hours, which thousands of customers have done.

According to the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), homebuilt aircraft crashes have declined in recent years, which the organization attributes to the introduction of multiple safety initiatives. The EAA, however, feels that more can be done to decrease the amount of crashes.

An investigation has been launched jointly with the FAA and the NTSB. So far, the cause of the crash is still to be determined.