A small plane departing the well-heeled East End Long Island crashed and caught fire shortly after takeoff Sunday evening, injuring the two people onboard, police said.
The single engine Mooney plane went down in the woods at about 5:25 p.m., about a half mile northeast of the airport. It's not clear whether the male pilot and female passenger were seriously injured. Their names were not released.
East Hampton police said the two had flown into the area earlier in the day and were returning to Taunton, Mass., at the time of the crash. They took off and had a problem, then tried to come back around to land at the airport when they went down. Police, firefighters and emergency crews responded to the scene and the two were airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital.
Sag Harbor resident Bill Kirrane and his wife were among about 30 people standing outside the airport to protest the noisy air traffic, and he said he saw the plane flying low over a fence that separates the woods from the airport before it went down. A few minutes later he saw smoke.
"They took a pretty hard hit, I know that. There was a lot of noise when it hit," he said.
Kirrane said a good Samaritan who had been driving nearby got through the fence and appeared to pull both people out of the aircraft. Emergency crews arrived moments later.
"He was covered in blood, and at first we thought it was his, but it was the passengers,'" Kirrane said. "That guy was a real hero."
Kirrane said he didn't recognize either of the passengers and was not sure how seriously they were injured.
Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Arlene Salac said the agency is investigating, along with the National Transportation Safety Board.
The small airport is located in a bucolic but swank area frequented by celebrities and the wealthy. According to the airport's website, it serves a mix of private pilots, charter flights and commercial businesses. About 16,000 aircraft use the airport it annually, mostly between the months of May to October.
The airport was temporarily closed during the investigation, halting normally busy Sunday traffic off the island.
It was the second small plane crash on Long Island in a week. Two people were killed and another injured when a single-engine plane crashed into a neighborhood in Shirley, N.Y. Aug. 19 shortly after takeoff from Brookhaven Airport.