Two people are dead after a small airplane crashed after takeoff near a North Hampton, N.H., airfield Monday morning.
An official with the Rockingham County sheriff’s office confirmed that the crash, which happened around 10:50 a.m., resulted in two fatalities.
“It dropped, just dropped out of the sky,” said Bob Lamothe, 52, of Hampton, who was at the airfield for an event when the plane crashed. “It was surreal. At first, I couldn’t believe I saw what I just saw.”
Officials say the Cessna 180 crashed into woods near the airfield.
Lamothe said the takeoff looked normal until the nose of the plane suddenly “went up at a very severe angle” before losing speed, overturning, and falling to the ground. He likened the sound of the crash to an electrical transformer explosion, and said he heard a bang and a crack. Afterward, he said he could smell leaking fuel.
“The plane was almost unrecognizable as an aircraft. It was so crashed in on itself the only thing that was recognizable was the tail,” Lamothe said.
The crash happened during the airfield’s annual Labor Day ‘‘flour bomb drop,’’ a competition in which participants pass over the runway and drop small sacks of flour over a target.
But an official at the Hampton Airfield said she did not believe the Cessna was a part of that event.
Many people who were in attendance for the competition ran to the downed plane to help.
Lamothe said the plane’s cockpit was “completely crushed” by the crash and the only part of the plane intact after impact was the tail.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating. Spokesman Peter Knudson said an NTSB investigator was en route to the crash site from Washington, D.C., and said more information would be released as it becomes available.
Authorities did not identify the victims or the cause of the crash Monday evening and no further information was immediately available.
The plane was registered to David E. Ingalls, of Kingston, N.H., according to the Federal Aviation Administration Registry. Authorities could not confirm Ingalls was in or at all associated with the plane crash.
No one could be reached for comment by telephone at the Ingalls’ residence or other numbers associated with him Monday evening.