A small plane crashed shortly after taking off from San Manuel Airport in Pinal County on Thursday morning, killing the 77-year-old pilot, according to local law enforcement authorities.
The name of the pilot, who is from Oracle, was not released until family could be notified.
The single-engine, homebuilt Mustang II FB crashed in a canyon about two miles from the airport about 9:30 a.m., according to Ian Gregor of the FAA.
Pinal County sheriff's spokesman Tim Gaffney said the pilot was the only person on board.
According to a witness, the pilot reported over the radio he was having oil pressure problems and was returning to the airport, Gaffney said. Suddenly, the plane went into a spin and crashed into a canyon known as Smelter Wash.
Gregor said the FAA believes the pilot was planning on making a local flight and returning to San Manuel.
Gregor said he could not confirm the plane's tail number because it caught fire after the crash.
He said the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate this accident and that the NTSB is the lead investigative agency.
The San Manuel Airport is approximately 45 miles northeast of Tucson.
No other information was immediately available.
Stay with cbs5az.com and CBS 5 News as this story develops.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5(Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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