CHINO - The cause of Friday's plane crash that claimed the life of a man when his single-engine experimental plane crashed near the Chino Airport runway is still being investigated.
Hyung Jun Lee, a 57-year-old citizen of China who lived in La Mirada, was pronounced dead after the plane crashed in the front yard of a residence near the airport about 1:30 p.m.
Chino spokeswoman Michelle Van Der Linden said Lee had been flying aircraft for 20 years and locally built and tested planes.
"The investigation is ongoing," said Patrick Jones, air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board in Gardena.
"The aircraft had a special airworthiness certificate and was in the process of flight testing," Jones said.
The Federal Aviation Administration's special airworthiness certificate is needed for planes to fly.
The aircraft's certificate was issued to Lee on May 22 under the category of a light sport aircraft that Jones said contains limitations.
One of the limitations may include flying only in a certain operational area, such as a sparsely populated one, Jones said.
During the flight time with limitations, Jones said the plane is tested to be sure it does what it is supposed to do.
"They do it this way so there is the least risk to persons and property on the ground," he said.
Van Der Linden said on Friday that the plane flew between 200 and 300 feet before the engine sputtered.
"It did fly over our museum as it was crashing," said Mark Foster, president of Planes of Fame Air Museum at Chino Airport.
Foster did not witness the crash but said the plane ended up just north of the museum.
"There's a new wave of the light sport aircraft," Foster said. "There's a new category out there now that requires less experience to fly. You don't need a medical flight physical to fly one, and there's less hours involved to fly."
But Foster said that it doesn't mean the airplane that crashed had a bad design.
"The cause is unknown to me," he said.
Chino Airport averages 12,000 takeoffs or landings each month.
Staff writer Shelli DeRobertis can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com , or by phone (909) 483-8555.
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