A LIGHT aircraft crashed shortly after take-off from Hamilton airport tonight, killing a 20-year-old trainee pilot from New South Wales.
Emergency services rushed to the crash site in a paddock, about one-kilometre north of the main runway about 7.45pm .
It is understood his single-engine Cessna was destroyed in a fiery impact.
The young pilot was involved in night flying training with Sharp Aviation Flying School.
The area was cordoned off and air safety investigators are travelling to Hamilton from Canberra. They are expected to arrive tomorrow morning.
Local aviation enthusiasts were in shock.
Hamilton Aero Club president Kelvin Rogers said it was the first local air fatality in more than 25 years.
"Hamilton is a widely used commercial and private airport and has a high safety record," Mr Rogers said.
Police media liaison spokeswoman Kate Millar said police were investigating and would prepare a report for the coroner.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau and Civil Aviation Safety Authority will also investigate.
A Country Fire Authority media spokeswoman said three units from Hamilton, two from Grange and two from Cavendish fire brigades attended.
She said the fire was quickly extinguished.
Hamilton SES, police and ambulance also attended.