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Los Angeles: A plane crash on the golden sands of California’s Santa Monica beach that killed one man was being investigated by authorities on Friday.

Footage shows the Cessna 150 violently flipping over as it made an emergency landing Thursday just meters (yards) from the world-famous Santa Monica pier, a popular tourist spot.

The Cessna 150 flipped over
The Cessna 150 flipped over as it made an emergency landing near the world-famous Santa Monica pier, a popular tourist spot. Image Credit: Twitter

Beachgoers looked on helplessly as the pilot appeared to try to land on the packed sand at the edge of the water before the light plane somersaulted as it hit the waves.

Emergency workers raced to free the pilot and passenger.

The 95-year-old passenger, Rex Minter, who was mayor of Santa Monica in the 1960s, died.

No information was given on the condition of the pilot. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said an investigation was under way.

“The pilot reported engine issues after departing from Santa Monica Airport,” he said.

Bystander Josh Feenberg said he and a friend were on the beach when the plane crashed. “My friend saw a plane flying really low and was really confused,” Feenberg told ABC 7.

“Then we saw it fly down there and we thought it would be a smooth landing but it hit the water and flipped over. It was pretty scary.”

Santa Monica’s stretch of unspoiled sand and its wide-open oceanfront make it a summertime magnet for locals and tourists alike.

The city’s grand wooden pier, which is home to a funfair, is the official western end of Route 66, the highway that runs from Chicago which was immortalized in music by Nat King Cole and later by The Rolling Stones.