Pilot Killed After Plane Malfunctions, Crashes Near NJ School: Police

A 50-year-old pilot was killed Saturday morning when the small plane he was flying malfunctioned and crashed near a northern New Jersey school, police said.

The Cessna plane went down in a wooded area behind the Kiddie Academy minutes after it took off from Essex County Airport, police said. A nearby resident heard four explosions moments before flames and smoke consumed the plane.

The man piloting the plane was heading to Teterboro Airport to pick up a passenger, West Caldwell Police Captain Gerard Paris said. But shortly after takeoff the plane began to malfunction and crashed behind the school.

Officials have not released the name of the New Jersey man who died in the crash.

The flaming wreckage of the plane could be seen near the intersection of Passaic and Fairfield avenues in West Caldwell. Detours were set up as a brush fire burned nearby.

Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were expected to investigate the crash. Debris will be left in the area for 24 hours as the investigation continues, police said.

Essex County Airport is about a mile from the crash site. Earlier in the day, a witness said firefighters were putting sheets over a body near the wreckage.

The Kiddie Academy building was not damaged and is expected to be open for classes on Monday.

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