SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - The pilot of a small plane was killed after, officials said, the aircraft crashed shortly after taking off from Miami Executive Airport, Sunday afternoon.

The Federal Aviation Administration released a statement confirming a Piper PA 60 crashed about a mile and a half west of the airport, just before 3 p.m.

The statement reads, “The pilot departed from Miami Executive and was returning to the airport after declaring an emergency.”

Radio traffic captured audio of the pilot moments before impact.

According to Miami-Dade Police, the aircraft went down near Southwest 157th Avenue and 120th Street, killing the pilot.

“I look back, and it was just — he was gone,” said witness Andy Fuentes.

When paramedics arrived, there was nothing they could do.

Investigators spent hours at the crash site trying to figure out what happened moments before the Piper hit the ground.

Cellphone video of the aftermath shows the mangled aircraft in the field where it crashed.

Carlos Diaz, who was operating a food truck nearby at the time of the crash, said it looked like something happened to the engine on the right side. In Spanish, he said that, despite the pilot’s best efforts to level the plane, it went straight down fast.

FAA officials said the pilot was the only person on the aircraft. Police said the victim was in his 60s.

“He’s gone, unfortunately,” said Fuentes. “Rest in peace to that man.”

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating as is Miami-Dade Police.

Investigators said they have been talking to who they believe is the victim’s family, but they will be waiting on the medical examiner’s office to identify him.

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