- Associated Press - Monday, July 27, 2015

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) - A single-engine plane that crashed in a Southern California neighborhood over the weekend took off 50 minutes earlier from a nearby airfield, federal investigators said Monday.

The pilot was killed in the fiery crash around 5 p.m. Sunday in Riverside, about a half-mile east of the city’s airport.

The small plane landed upside down near homes and caught fire, but the flames were quickly doused. Debris was scattered across the neighborhood but nobody on the ground was hurt.

The flight of the four-seat Beechcraft originated at 4:19 p.m. at Brackett Field in La Verne, about 20 miles northwest of the crash site, National Transportation Safety Board Inspector Josh Cawthra said at a news conference.

The pilot radioed controllers shortly before the crash that he had engine trouble and the Riverside Municipal Airport tower was informed that the plane needed to make an emergency landing, a city Fire Department statement said.

“I don’t think that I am going to make the landing,” the pilot said in his last transmission.

The pilot, who was the only occupant, was not immediately identified pending results from examination of dental records.

Crews planned to remove the plane Monday. The investigation could take months, officials said.

Both residences closest to the crash site were occupied at the time, the Fire Department said.

Richard and Doris Godfrey have lived in their house near the site for more than 55 years.

“They were just sitting down to have dinner,” their son-in-law, Keith Burke, told The Press-Enterprise of Riverside (https://bit.ly/1fB6tNN). “There was a crash, and the backyard was engulfed in flames - lots and lots of smoke.”

The home was undamaged, but a backyard fence was destroyed.

“Either skillful flying … or just luck” kept the plane from hitting the house, Burke said.

“Our heart goes out to the family of the pilot and the loss they suffered this evening,” he said.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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