Discuss as:

Miss. plane crashes on way to air safety conference, killing three

A single-engine Piper plane on its way to an aviation-safety conference had just taken off when it crashed into a house in a Mississippi neighborhood, killing  all three aboard. One person in the house was slightly hurt. TODAY's Natalie Morales reports.

A small, single-engine plane en route to a Federal Aviation Administration safety conference crashed into a house in a Jackson, Miss., neighborhood late Tuesday, killing all three people aboard, authorities said. A resident of the home escaped with minor injuries.

The Piper PA-32 had just taken off from the city’s Hawkins Field Airport when it began to falter. A police officer who saw the plane go down said it was sputtering, and the plane's owner told The Associated Press it struck several trees as it went down. The three people in the plane were said to be pilots.

The crash happened in west Jackson, just south of the city’s zoo, just after 5 p.m. local time (6 p.m. ET) Tuesday. The house is located on Marcus L. Butler Drive south of W. Capitol Street, NBC affiliate WLBT reported.

Dramatic aerial pictures of the scene were aired by WLBT.

Large flames and black smoke rose about 50 feet from the house that was hit, which is in a neighborhood of single-family homes surrounded by big magnolia and oak trees, according to witnesses.

Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham-Stewart confirmed to the AP that three people died in the crash. She said dental records or DNA would be needed to confirm their identities.

The plane was owned by Roger and Michele Latham, from Superior Pallet Company in Flowood, Miss., both of whom showed up at the crash site, along with their daughter, Emily Latham. Michele Latham said all three men on board were pilots. 

Emily Latham noted that her father was supposed to have been on board but changed his plans. "He went hunting," she told AP. "Thank God."

Rogelio V. Solis / AP

Fire fighters re-enter a west Jackson, Miss., home where authorities say a small plane carrying three people Tuesday evening.

"We had three great men who lost their lives," Roger Latham said. "I just want to wake up in a while and say, 'This didn't happen.'"

Authorities did not confirm the identities of any of the victims.

The plane had just departed Hawkins Field Airport headed for Raymond, Miss., for an FAA safety conference, just 25 miles away.

Latham said his plane had been parked in a hangar for a month and they wanted to take it out for a short flight before he flew it to Gulf Shores, Ala., for Thanksgiving. Latham said he had owned the plane for 2 1/2 years and described it as being in mint condition.

The plane took off at 5:10 p.m. and shortly after, the pilot asked for permission to return to the airport, according to a news release issued by the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority. The plane was unable to return and crashed.

Latham said a Jackson police officer who was about a block away when the plane was coming down told him "it was spitting and sputtering and ... starving for fuel."

Vivian Payne, who lives about six blocks from the crash site, said she heard a loud bang.

"It shook the walls of my house," Payne said as she stood among ambulances, police cars and fire trucks, their lights flashing in the chilly night air.

The National Transportation Safety Board along with the FAA will be investigating the cause of the crash.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

More content from NBCNews.com:

Follow US news from NBCNews.com on Twitter and Facebook