A flight instructor remained in critical condition Thursday after a fiery, two-plane crash at the Compton/Woodley Airport killed his student the previous evening.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department described the surviving victim as a man in his 30s and the student as a man in his 40s. They were in a single-engine Cessna 152, which was struck by a single-engine North American T-28 on the runway around 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The pilot of the T-28 did not sustain any injuries in the incident, the Sheriff's Department said. That aircraft, which bears the U.S. Navy sign, appeared to be mostly intact as it sat at the airfield on Thursday morning.
Officials have yet to identify the three individuals involved.
The Cessna had just landed on the runway when the T-28 touched down and ran into it, causing the Cessna to explode, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
"Like many general aviation airports, Compton does not have a control tower," FAA Public Affairs Manager Ian Gregor said. "Pilots communicate with each other on a common radio frequency."
The T-28 appeared to approach the Cessna from behind before landing on top of it, witnesses told KTLA on Wednesday night.
"It just sounded like the darnedest explosion you would imagine… I saw one of the airplanes involved in the crash dragging parts of the other airplane down the runway," pilot Billy Jackson said.
The Compton Fire Department responded to the scene and extinguished the blaze, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department said.
The FAA is helping the National Transportation Safety Board investigate the case. The NTSB typically takes at least a year to determine what caused an incident, Gregor noted.
A 2015 crash at the county-owned Compton airport left a pilot dead when a single-engine plane that had been trying to tow an advertising banner crashed and burned on a runway, the Associated Press reported.