Rockingham County plane was taking off before it crashed

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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Air safety investigators are still figuring out what happened to a plane that crashed feet from the Shiloh Airport runway in Rockingham County on Thursday.

The plane, an Early Bird Jenny, was taking off when it suddenly crashed into the tree line and caught fire. The pilot of the plane was killed in the crash.

A single witness called for help just after 6:30 p.m. Thursday after watching the small plane take off and crash to the ground moments later.

“It reached an altitude about 100 feet or so and then it entered a turn and impacted terrain,” NTSB air safety investigator Allison Diaz said.

Diaz told FOX8 the plane was taking off for a local flight when it crashed.

“What happened, it’s too soon to tell. We’re just here to document all of the factual information that we can,” Diaz said.

The plane won’t be moved until investigators gather more information about what brought it down.

“The positions of the controls, how the aircraft itself came to rest, we’ll be looking at the engine, at maintenance records, and the pilot’s experience and qualifications,” Diaz said.

The pilot was in the process of logging more hours in the air. The Early Bird Jenny was an amateur-built plane making experimental flights. Shiloh Airport management told FOX8 the plane made several successful flights before the accident.

Investigators are not releasing the name of the pilot at this time. It will take about two weeks to find out what caused the plane to crash.

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