LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A single-engine aircraft crashed into a tree and burst into flames in a densely populated neighborhood of West Los Angeles, killing the pilot on board.

Ian Gregor, a communications manager with the Federal Aviation Administration, said the accident occurred in the 2100 block of Glendon Avenue.

Gregor said preliminary information has revealed that the plane had departed from Santa Monica Airport when the pilot reported an emergency about 6:10 p.m. Friday. The nature of the emergency was unknown.

According to Gregor, the plane was returning to the airport to land when the crash occurred.

“I heard a loud bang. Really loud bang. Louder than a gunshot. Louder than anything I’ve ever heard in my life,” one man told Carter Evans, reporting for CBS2 and KCAL9.

When asked what his first thoughts were immediately after the crash, the man said he thought it was, “a terrorist attack or it’s World War III or we’re getting invaded or something.”

Another witness told Evans, “the plane was on the ground. The front of the plane was kinda off in the street. It was in flames. We were there for a minute or two. My dad is an emergency room doctor. He wanted to try to help people. The police shooed us away.”

Brian Humphrey, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department, said the victim was sole occupant of the plane and was beyond medical help. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

No one on the ground was injured. No structures or homes were damaged.

The NTSB and FAA are expected to investigate.

Friday’s crash marked the second time in a year that a small plane has slammed into a neighborhood around Santa Monica Airport. Last August, a student pilot screamed in pain as witnesses pulled him from his mangled plane. The man crashed into the backyard of a house in Santa Monica shortly after takeoff.

Since that crash, an increasing number of calls have been made to limit the number of flights into and out of Santa Monica Airport. No limits have been put on flights so far, although there is a proposal — however controversial — on the table to pay student pilots to fly out of Torrance Airport instead.

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