plane.jpgA pilot of a small plane who died when the aircraft crashed into waters behind Oakland International Airport Sunday afternoon has been identified as 73-year-old Richard Manuel, the Alameda County coroner’s bureau said.

Manuel, of San Mateo, died this afternoon when the World War II-era plane went nose first into the shores of San Leandro Marina in the city of Alameda, a spokeswoman at Oakland International Airport said.

The plane took off from one of the airport’s north-field runways at about 3:30 p.m. when something went wrong, and the single-engine Navion aircraft crashed into the water’s edge of the harbor, spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes said.

Paramedics from Oakland’s fire department were among the first to respond to the crash in a single ambulance, and the pilot was pronounced dead shortly afterward, Barnes said.

No one knows why the plane crashed.

“We’re just really sorry for what happened here,” Barnes said.

“It’s a very somber mood.”

The Navion plane that crashed is a five-seat aircraft built in the U.S. in 1947, Barnes said.

The plane, which originally took off from the airport’s Runway 33, was found with its nose in the ground and tail jutting out over the water. Manuel was found dead inside, she said.

Federal Aviation Administration officials responded to the crash along with Oakland police and fire departments. National Transportation Safety Board officials plan to lead the investigation.

Operations at the airport were not impacted by the crash.

“We have staff here, and we’re here to assist and do whatever we can,” Barnes said.

Rachel Purdy/Saul Sugarman, Bay City News

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