NTSB: Witnesses report engine fire before small-plane crash

ROUND ROCK, Texas (AP) — A small twin-engine plane appeared to have an engine fire and was flying low and erratically before crashing into a Central Texas field, federal officials said Friday.

The Cessna 320 crashed at about 1 p.m. on July 1 near Round Rock, killing its pilot and lone occupant.

In a preliminary report issued Friday, the National Transportation Safety Board said the aircraft took off from an airport in Lago Vista, Texas, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) northwest of Austin and flew 45 miles east before making a north turn, where its flight track data link ceased.

The aircraft appeared to be headed back to the Lago Vista airport when a woman driving near Round Rock, about 30 miles (49 kilometers) west of where the plane turned, said she saw the plane flying low and erratically with its left engine aflame. Another witness in Round Rock said the plane was sputtering and popping as it flew overhead.

It crashed and burned in a wooded area near gravel pits just west of Interstate 35.