Federal transportation safety officials are investigating the cause of a small plane crash in Chenango County that sent five people to the hospital.

The plane carrying four people crashed in the area of Hollow road in McDonough near the Palyul Retreat Center Buddhist monastery at around 3:30 p.m. August 8 after it was seen flying low and clipping tree tops.

The passengers were able to walk away before the plane burst into flames as monks at the temple ran to their aid.  One of the monks assisting at the scene was taken to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation while the four on the plane were also taken to Wilson Hospital with minor injuries.

Authorities on the scene said the pilot told them he was flying low and taking pictures of the scenery when he clipped the trees.

As the plane stalled and began to drop, it hit several tree branches, which helped break the fall.

The plane had been flying from Sidney to Greene.

The aircraft was destroyed in the fire.