El Dorado County Sheriff's officials say the pilot, 66-year-old Steven Lefton, died on impact when the Mooney M20 crashed Monday after taking off from the South Lake Tahoe Airport.
His wife, 67-year-old Karen Lefton, is hospitalized with moderate injuries. She was pinned in the wreckage.
Lt. Pete Van Arnum says several witnesses saw the single-engine plane quickly lose altitude and bank sharply after takeoff.
The plane crashed into several large pine trees and flipped over, landing upside down on U.S. forestland.