(NECN: Kathryn Sotnik, Taunton, Mass.) - "You could hear the 'ump.' I don't know how hard it came down."
That's how nearby residents describe the fiery plane crash around 6:30 a.m. Sunday in Taunton, Mass.
Only charred remains were left in a gully near the runway after the small plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Taunton Municipal Airport.
The crash killed 69-year-old pilot John Schmouth from Brockton and passenger Roland Deslauriers, 61, of Bridgewater.
"He was a good guy, I'm going to miss him," said Philip Lavigne, a friend of Schmouth.
Lavigne says the plane was a recent birthday present.
Another friend of Schmouth, who didn't want to be identified, says he showed up at the airport Sunday to meet his friend, only to be told the news.
Fighting back the emotion, he said, "I just came to see my friend, and then to find this mess like this."
Taunton Mayor Thomas Hoye Jr. says the crash is a "terrible tragedy."
National Transportation Safety Board senior air safety investigator Luke Schiada was also on scene, as was the medical examiner's office.
The NTSB says the victims were badly burned in the ensuing fire.
The plane was a single engine two-seater Aeronca Champ from the 1940's. The NTSB says the pilot was not required to file a flight plan, so it's not clear exactly where the plane was headed.
They also say there was no black box of flight data recorder on board.
"We're at the very beginning stages of the investigation. We're not speculating. We're not drawing any conclusions," said Schiada. "Our job right now is to gather as much factual data as we can."
The NTSB and Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission are investigating the wreckage and say they will document each piece before it's moved to a secure location.