TRUCKEE (CBS13) – A pilot was killed after a single-engine plane crashed into a building at Truckee-Tahoe Airport near Reno on Thursday morning.

The pilot was the only person aboard when the Piper Comanche crashed into a hangar at the airport about 8:15 a.m., according to Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor.

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Crews respond to fatal plane crash at the Truckee-Tahoe Airport. (credit: Lake Tahoe Television News)

Gregor says the plane is registered to a Northern California man.

Kevin Smith, the airport’s general manager, watched as the plane took off into a clear Sierra morning sky.

“It just didn’t look right,” he said. “It had a hard time climbing and there was an apparent loss of control, whatever it was.”

But Smith doesn’t know what went wrong, but he says the airport does present challenges for pilots.

“Density altitude is something, the aircraft, the airplanes think they are higher then they are just cause of the thinner air,” he said.

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Investigators may not even see the plane until Friday. Firefighters have kept everyone, even the FAA and NTSB, away from the scene.

“The plane is still inside the hangar,” a fire official said. “We have an active fuel leak.”

The Hines were stranded at the airport Thursday. Their car was in the same hangar as the plane. But their thoughts weren’t on their own inconvenience. They’re thinking about the pilot who lost his life.

“It’s very sobering, especially when you fly,” she said of the fatality. “You always feel very sad.”

The name of the pilot has not been released.

Investigators are looking into the cause of the crash but the investigation will take months to complete.

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