LIVERMORE, Calif. (AP) -- Federal investigators say a small kit plane that crashed in the San Francisco Bay Area was on fire before it hit the ground.
According to a preliminary report released this week by the National Transportation Safety Board, witnesses to the fatal June 21 crash in Livermore said the plane was at an altitude of about 1,000 feet when it abruptly pitched upward while trailing smoke.
The Loehle 5151 Mustang then nosed over and spiraled toward the ground trailing both smoke and fire.
Alameda County Sheriff's officials tell the San Francisco Chronicle (http://bit.ly/1qG5uis) the pilot, 63-year-old Jerry Lamont Parker, was seen jumping or falling from the plane around 1,000 feet. He was not wearing a parachute. His body was found about 300 yards from where the plane crashed.
It had taken off shortly before from Livermore Municipal Airport.