The wreckage of a single-engine plane in which the pilot was killed and the passenger critically injured was moved Friday from the site of the crash in Orange County to a Long Beach facility for examination.
“We do not know the cause of the accident at this time,” said Gary Mucho, regional director of the National Transportation Safety Board. “We do have an investigator at the scene, and we will look at the engine and plane parts when the plane arrives at the facility in Long Beach.”
The aircraft crashed Thursday in a remote area. Passenger Tim Fredrich, 29, of Orange was in serious but stable condition in an intensive-care ward on Friday, a spokeswoman at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana said. Calvin Johnson, 61, of Irvine died in the crash.
Fredrich, as was Johnson, is an experienced pilot and a civilian member of the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station recreational flying group known as the Aero Club.
The aircraft, a Piper PA-28 Arrow, took off from the El Toro base on a routine training flight bound for Chino. The pilot was being checked for recertification to fly the four-seat craft solo, a Marine spokeswoman said.
But the men encountered difficulty and sent a Mayday signal when they were about 3 miles east of Irvine Lake.
The safety board is expected to interview Fredrich at the hospital when he is able to talk, possibly this weekend or early next week, Mucho said.
“We want to know the purpose of the flight and what they were trying to accomplish during the training flight,” Mucho said.
An El Toro Marine spokesman said the crash investigation is being handled entirely by NTSB investigators.