HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (CBS4) – The pilot of a plane that crashed in Highlands Ranch took off from a local airport just minutes before the small plane went down.

An airport spokeswoman says the pilot had been in touch with the tower shortly before taking off from Centennial Airport around 2:30 p.m.

Just minutes later the plane went down, and authorities are investigating why.

“I guess someone said there was a stream coming off the wing, and typically that’s where the fuel tanks are located on some of these airplanes,” said a local flight instructor.

The instructor rushed to the scene shortly after the plane crashed worried it was one of his students.

“I just got back from my flight and pulling in I saw him in the run up area. That’s where you check your gauges and flight instruments are working. So I saw a homebuilt airplane right when I got back from my flight,” he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed the plane was the type of aircraft hobbyists build in their own workshops.

“There are just thousands of experimental home-built airplanes that are built every year, and people build them … in their hangers over at the airport,” said the instructor.

It could take over a week for the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board to figure out why the plane went down.

The flight instructor said he knows that building experimental aircraft is risky.

“You have to be a mechanic plus a pilot. You have two jobs,” he said.

The Douglas County Coroner has still not released the identity of the pilot.


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