HAWTHORNE (CBSLA.com) — An ultralight aircraft crashed and burst into flames after taking off from Hawthorne Municipal Airport Monday.
Byron Mayes and his coworkers with Best Drilling and Pump were working on a well on West 120th Street around noon when the plane was plunging about a quarter-mile off the west end of the airport.
The 18-year-old said he was only a few feet away from being struck by the falling aircraft.
“It kind of went straight up and just veered right. And as soon as it veered right, my partner started yelling: ‘Oh! Watch out. Watch out. There’s a plane.'”
“Next thing I knew the plane was coming straight at me. So I ran out of the way,” Mayes said. “As soon as the plane hit the curb, it blew up. And the flames just kept getting bigger and bigger.”
He and his coworkers rushed to pull the female pilot out of the burning wreckage. “We pulled her out of the plane before we even got to the fire extinguisher,” Mayes said. “Her legs were on fire. That’s when my partner ran in and pulled her out.”
The pilot was rushed to a hospital in full cardiac arrest. “We checked her pulse, and sadly to say there was no pulse at first. But the paramedics were doing as best as they could to keep her breathing,” Mayes added.
FAA spokesman Ian Gregor confirmed the aircraft was an Airborne XT-912 – a light-sport, weight-shift-control plane.
Mayes said the pilot was wearing a blue jumpsuit, which is the kind worn by pilots who work for Pacific Blue Air. It is the only business that operates the Airborne XT-912 at the Hawthorne Airport.