The pilot whose plane crashed in Warren County on Sunday is alive despite initial reports, according to Sheriff John Branche.
This comes hours after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) incident report stated that the pilot died in the crash. Instead, ABC11 learned the pilot is in critical condition at the Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.
The crash, which involved a single-engine Cessna 182 with only the pilot onboard, happened near the North Carolina-Virginia state line around 3 p.m.
Investigators said the pilot, whose name has not been released, crashed during takeoff at Nocarva Airport. That airport is for small planes only; it consists of one grass-covered runway that is several football fields long.
A witness told ABC11 the plane lifted off, quickly flipped upside-down and dove into the tree line. The airplane then caught on fire.
"Heard him coming normal and when he got about here he was probably about 10 feet off the ground and then all of a sudden, it just went straight up in the air and did like an inversion like this and dove right into the trees. Hit the ground and of course it burst into flames. It was horrible," witness Mike Uhlman said.
Uhlman went on to say the pilot's father and brother were on the ground watching when the crash happened. They all rushed to the crash site to help as quickly as possible.
Officials in Warren County said this crash is the only crash to happen at Nocarva Airport in more than 40 years.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it had video of the crash which would be examined as part of the investigation into what caused the crash. A preliminary report on the crash should be released in a couple weeks, but the full report could take months or even years to complete.
The Warren County crash was the second small plane to crash in North Carolina on Sunday.
The first involved a single-engine Beechcraft 35 and it happened in Orange County near Highway 157 and Breeze Road.
Investigators arrived at the site of the crash to find the plane on fire around 12:15 p.m. The pilot in the Orange County crash died.
Monday, State Highway Patrol identified the pilot as 68-year-old John M. Bofinger of New Jersey.
Catherine Johnson who lives just a few hundred yards from where the first plane went down in Orange County said she was outside her house at the time and saw it all happen.
"I saw the plane over there above the tree line, and it sounded like it wasn't running well. And then all of a sudden it went boom and everything went quiet," Johnson said.
She said the plane's engine sounded distressed as it went down.
"It honestly just sounded like it was missing," she said. "Like it just didn't sound like an engine's supposed to sound when it runs."
Earlier this month a small plane crashed in Pitt County.
It happened on Friday, May when a small plane crashed in Greenville.
Pitt County officials said the plane crashed in a wooded and swampy area south of the Tar River.
Two people were on the plane when it went down. Neither person on the plane was injured in the crash.
WATCH | Airplane carrying 2 people crashed near Pitt-Greenville Airport