(CNN)A small plane crashed Saturday near a California highway, killing the pilot, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said.
1 person was killed after a small plane crashed near a Southern California highway
The crash was reported about 10:12 a.m. (1:12 p.m. ET) east of the 14 Freeway near Santa Clarita. When first responders arrived, the aircraft was engulfed in flames, authorities said.
The pilot was the only person aboard the aircraft and died in the crash, the sheriff's department said. Authorities have not identified the pilot.
A woman who was hiking in the area at the time told CNN affiliate KTLA she saw the plane clip a tree and crash near the freeway.
"The next thing we saw was a big black cloud of smoke," Courtney Gonzales told KTLA.
The 14 Freeway is the local term for California State Route 14, a north-south highway that connects Los Angeles to the northern Mojave Desert.
Before the crash, the homebuilt TM-1 Thunder Mustang departed from the Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman with the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Thunder Mustang is a three-quarter scale replica of a P-51 Mustang, a US World War II-era fighter plane. Any homebuilt aircraft must be inspected by the FAA for airworthiness before its first flight like any general aviation aircraft, according to FAA regulations.
The airport is about five miles north of the crash site, CNN affiliate KCAL/KCBS reported.
It's unclear where the plane was headed.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash, Gregor said.
The crash in Santa Clarita comes about a week after four smaller-sized aircraft crashed, killing 6 people in separate incidents in Louisiana, New York, North Carolina and Maryland.