Aviation officials are investigating after a fiery plane crash killed an Ottawa man near Barrie, Ont. over the weekend.

Police say the 61-year-old man died when his single-seat, home-built airplane took a nose dive and burst into flames on Sunday. The pilot's name is being withheld until next of kin are notified.

"[He was] a very professional person and well-respected," said John Phillips who operates Carp Airport, where the man stored his plane.

Witnesses reported the plane crashed and suddenly caught fire while the man was conducting a common landing procedure at Lake Simcoe Regional Airport. The procedure -- called a touch and go -- involves landing and taking off again.

"The hardest part of flying is your landing and your takeoff so to keep current a lot of people do touch and gos. We practice that here as well," said Tony Tiefenbach of the Ottawa Flying Club.

Many wonder what went wrong

The crash has left many, including friend and fellow pilot Mark Richardson, wondering what went wrong.

"His airplane was absolutely pristine - it was immaculate. It belonged in a museum, it was so nice," Richardson told CTV Ottawa after learning about the tragic crash.

Richardson said the pilot flew to Barrie often and parked his plane in the hanger next to his.

"He was here a lot working on it and you know talking to people and flying quite often," he said.

Homebuilt planes common

Although the man's airplane was homebuilt, members of the aviation community told CTV Ottawa planes built from kits are common and generally safe.

"I believe in the last couple of years there were more experimental aircraft or kit-built planes registered with Transport Canada than certified aircraft," said Phillips.

He adds that kit-built planes are also subject to rigorous safety inspections: "I'm sure many experimental aircraft builders would tell you that it's tough. If it's not done exactly right, they have to stop and start over."

An autopsy on the man's body was scheduled for Monday. Police, however, say it could take several days to positively identify the man due to the extent of the damage.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Aliya Jiwan