Witnesses say they knew something was wrong when they saw the aircraft take off too close to the hangers and heard what sounded like engine failure.
"The craft went out from the hanger area and clipped a wing of a parked airplane and became airborne, at which point it got to about 75 to 100 feet in the air," said Capt. Steve Deuel of the Torrance Fire Department.
Authorities say there were two people on board the aircraft, a student and an instructor. Their identities have not been released.
There was no fire on the ground when the plane crashed, but the victims were severely injured from the impact. They were rushed to a local hospital, where one man later died of his injuries.
"I pulled out my camera, I said, 'Oh, this is going to crash.' My mechanic shouted, 'Oh, they're going to crash, they're going to crash,'" said Anshul Mishra, who witnessed the crash, said.
According to Deuel, if the plane comes down when it is 75 to 100 feet in the air, "you're looking at potential life-threatening injuries."
Authorities say it's uncommon for planes to fly in and out of the small airport at night. The crash is under investigation.
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