A single-engine plane with two people aboard crashed "within seconds" after taking off from East Hampton Airport late Sunday afternoon and soon after burst into flames, authorities said.
Sunday's crash was reported just before 5:30 p.m. and occurred shortly after the underwing Mooney model was airborne, said East Hampton Town police Lt. Christopher Hatch.
"It may have been a mechanical problem with the plane," he said.
The plane crashed about 400 yards east of the airport in a wooded area near Daniels Hole Road, police said.
Two people onboard the plane, a male pilot and a female passenger, were airlifted from the crash site to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment, officials said. The nature and extent of their injuries was not known.
After taking off from runway 10, police said, the pilot experienced trouble and was attempting to return to the airport at the time of the crash.
Like last week when stunned residents rushed to help three people in a single-engine plane that crashed in Shirley, bystanders were there to help.
Airport employees and motorists came upon the crash Sunday just before the plane burst into flames, Hatch said. The woman needed to be helped from the plane, he said.
"I believe the bystanders played quite a role in saving their lives, especially for the female passenger," Hatch said.
An East Hampton ambulance squad provided first aid and advanced life support, police said.
The airport, bustling with late-summer weekend travelers, shut down for about 1 hour and 15 minutes after the crash to ensure the safety of the first responders. During that time 18 planes were circling, officials said.
About three hours after the crash, police and fire vehicles remained lined along the shoulder of Daniels Hole Road, illuminating the woods east of the airport.
Just after 8 p.m., Federal Aviation Administration investigators traversed the knee-high brush to the wreckage about 100 yards off the road.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate, FAA spokeswoman Arlene Salac said.
No homes are near the crash site and police said only brush in the vicinity was burned by the fire caused by the accident. The East Hampton, Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor fire departments put out the flames.
The town-owned airport is an uncontrolled field, which means pilots do not need to file flight plans. About 16,000 aircraft use the airport annually, mainly between the months of May and October, according to the East Hampton Town website.
With Laura Figueroa and Tania Lopez