A flight instructor taking a student out for a lesson on Friday afternoon was killed when their small plane failed to gain altitude fast enough taking off from Linden Airport and crashed into the site of the old General Motors plant.

Small plane after crash landing on tracks across from Linden Airport (Greg Gie)

Craig MacCallum, 58, of Montclair died at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital at Rahway. The student, a 19-year-old man from Monmouth Junction, remains hospitalized at University Hospital in Newark.MacCallum made a mayday call as he tried to bring the plane back to the airport.

Instead, the plane crash landed on the tracks across Routes 1/9 on the site of the automotive plant that closed in 2005.

"Struggling To Be In The Air"

Witnesses saw the plane struggle to take off and called 9-1-1. "You could tell it was struggling to be in the air. Then, just quiet," David Martinez, who works at a shipping company on the busy highway, told the newspaper.. "There was no bang."

Airport Director Paul Dudley said it wasn't immediately clear who was flying the aircraft, a single engine Diamond, at the time of the distress call, but Dudley said the plane was equipped with dual controls for training.

Small plane crash at the old GM plant in Linden (WNYW TV)

“We don’t know if this is mechanical. We don’t know if its related to the heat,” Dudley told MyCentralNJ.com. “There will be an investigation and they will be able to tell whether the aircraft was overloaded, whether there was a mechanical problem. The NTSB and FAA have been notified.”

Linden Police Capt. James Sarnicki tells the Star-Ledger one of the men was thrown from the plane and another was trapped for a time.

The plane was registered to a company in Denville, Federal Aviation Administration records showed. Dudley said the plane was operated by Best In Flight, a flight training company that has been based at Linden Airport for about two years. The company didn't immediately return a phone message seeking comment Friday.

The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to finish its investigation of the crash today according to the Star-Ledger.

The Associated Press contributed to this story