A pilot was killed Sunday afternoon when his small banner-towing plane crashed during takeoff at Compton/Woodley Airport, officials said.
The crash occurred about 12:30 p.m. Sunday, after the single-engine Aviat A1 hooked a banner, officials said. The pilot was the only person on board, said Ian Gregor, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration's Pacific Division.
No one on the ground was hurt.
Enkone Goodlow, an artist who rents a hangar at the airport, said he and some spectators had watched the pilot repeatedly try to hook a Bud Light banner. The banner was tied to a mastpole on the ground and the pilot would fly by and try to snare it with a grappling hook dangling from the plane before pulling up.
"Usually, people get it the first time if not the second time, but it took [the pilot] seven times," Goodlow said. "We thought it was not normal. I wondered what was going on when after the seventh successful hook, all of a sudden, his plane nosed to the ground. We ran full blast toward it, thinking we could pull him out."
But they were too late. With the plane engulfed in flames, Goodlow said he jumped on an airport-based fire truck and headed to the crash scene.
"You never want to see accidents like this happen, but we were scrambling, just trying to respond," he added.
The pilot's name has not been released. The FAA's online registry shows the plane is registered to a company called Wyoming Services in Laramie, Wyo.
Officials from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will conduct an investigation.