Pilot killed in plane crash in Fairfield, New Jersey area

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Saturday, August 15, 2015
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Renee Stoll has more from West Caldwell.

FAIRFIELD, NJ (WABC) -- A 50-year-old New Jersey man is dead after the Cessna 206 aircraft he was in crashed about a half mile from Essex County Airport Saturday morning.

The crash occurred around 10 a.m. shortly after departing from Runway 22, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The plane ended up at the Fairfield/West Caldwell border near Passaic Avenue.

Authorities said the cause of the crash was not immediately known.

The Cessna was was heading to Teterboro Airport to pick up a passenger when the pilot realized something was wrong with plane. He tried to circle back to the airport but crashed. The plane was about 90 percent destroyed is a fire. He has not been identified and his family has not yet been notified.

Max Bratton, who operates Rover Ranch and Spa at 16 Passaic Ave., said he was outside when a small plane flew very low over his head. Within seconds, he said, he heard a clipping noise, which he thinks was the plane hitting trees nearby. Then it crashed behind a day care called Kiddie Academy of West Caldwell at 810 Passaic Ave.

Bratton said he then heard a large explosion and fire. He said there is usually no one at the day care on Saturdays. The plane crashed about 100 feet from the playground at Kiddie Academy.

Passaic Avenue is shut down to all cars from Fairfield Avenue to Beverly Road in Fairfield.

The FAA is on scene; the National Transportation Safety Board is on the way.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.