Officials with the FAA have identified a pilot who died after his small plane crashed into a wooded area in Hamilton Township, Atlantic County.
The plane went down around 5:00 p.m. Friday. Emergency crews responded to the intersection of Columbia Road and Cypress Street, which is close to Exit 17 off the Atlantic City Expressway.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board say the plane was assembled from a kit. The pilot, identified as 44-year-old Anthony Kelly, did not assemble the plane, according to investigators. Investigators say Kelly had worked as an air traffic controller with the Atlantic City Airport for over 10 years prior to his death.
NBC10's Ted Greenberg was the first reporter on the scene. He talked to a nearby resident who says she heard a low-flying plane and then heard sirens in the area.
The wreckage from that plane was scattered in the area. What appeared to be a red tail of the plane was discovered about a mile away from the main wreckage site. Officials say the aircraft was a RV7a experimental plane.
The plane was on fire, but authorities tell NBC10 that fire was quickly contained.
Since the crash happened in a wooded area, the NJ Forest Fire service also responded to the scene.
"It's a tragedy," said Joe Flood, who has been building and restoring planes for 30 years. "You don't want to see anything like that happen to anybody."
A 2012 study from the National Transportation Safety Board found that experimental aircraft make up 10% of the general aircraft fleet in the country but also account for 15% of all accidents and 21% of all fatal accidents.
"There's a danger with everything in life," Flood said. "I'm a flyer. I've been flying since I was 14-years-old. I don't consider it a danger."
Flood insists that experimental aircraft undergo strict regulations.
“It’s not like going to Pep Boys and buying a kit and bringing it home and putting it in your yard and flying it,” Flood said. “It’s nothing like that.”
Instead, Flood says owners must detail a log of the plane’s building process.
“There are rules and regulations like with anything else,” Flood said. “You have to have a designated inspector come out and inspect the airplane before it’s able to fly for the first time.”
That inspection is filed with the FAA. After that, an airworthiness certificate is granted.
In order for the pilots to keep their planes, they must undergo annual inspections, some of them completely random and unannounced.
The NTSB continues to investigate the cause of the crash.