PHOENIX -- At least one person was killed when a small plane crashed early Wednesday morning at Deer Valley Airport.
Aerial video from the scene captured just minutes after the crash showed the burning wreckage. A plume of dark smoke was visible for some distance.
The pilot of 3TV's news helicopter, Scott Clifton, saw the plane nose dive into the side of the City Wide Pest Control building on the northwest side of the airport just after 6 a.m.
There is what appears to be a surveillance camera on the side of the building into which the plane crashed. Investigators will be looking at that video as they try to piece together what happened in the minutes before the plane went down.
According to Tammy Rose in the 3TV news helicopter, the plane appeared to lined up for landing on Runway 7-Left, which is surrounded by buildings.
The runway, which is the shorter of the two runways, is situated in a manner that makes it difficult if a pilot runs into problems while on approach because there's no other place to put a plane down.
Firefighters were on the scene and had the fire out within about 15 minutes. They were able to keep the flames from spreading to the City Wide building.
The plane was a Cirrus SR-22, a single-engine high-performance plane that seats four people.
One of the unique things about the Cirrus is that is equipped with an airframe parachute that can be used in case of emergency.
That parachute is designed to be deployed at high altitudes.
Real-time weather data from the 3HD ForecastNet showed clear and calm conditions at the time of the crash. It's not known if the pilot radioed in with a problem.
Emergency crews from the Phoenix Fire Department said one person, believed to be the pilot, was killed.
The victim has not been identified. It's not yet known if anybody else was on board.Nobody on the ground was injured. The pilot was reportedly doing "touch-and-gos" to practice takeoffs and landings at the time of the crash.
Witnesses said they saw the plane take off and then loop around. They said they heard "sputtering" just before the crash. One of the witnesses, a pilot himself, said the plan seemed to be quite low and slow after taking off.
There is some speculation that the plane's door might have been open when it crashed, but that has not been confirmed.
Video from the scene showed what appeared to be the door a short distance from the rest of the wreckage. The Cirrus SR-22 was registered to a Phoenix-based company called Magneto Investments Inc.
The Federal Aviation Authority and NTSB are launching an investigation into the crash, but that will take some time. Deer Valley Airport, which is home to an aviation school, is located in the area of 19th Avenue and Deer Valley Road in Phoenix.
With 402,335 takeoffs and landings in 2009, it is the 14th busiest of all U.S. airports and the busiest general-aviation airport in the nation.