BUCKLEY, Wash. -

A Pierce County sheriff's spokesman says the crash of a small plane near Buckley, Washington, killed two friends who had recently exchanged ownership of the aircraft.

The county medical examiner's office identified the men killed Wednesday afternoon as 62-year-old James Robert Cawley and 72-year-old Rodney John Richardson, both of Buckley.

The News Tribune reports that sheriff's Sgt. Ed Troyer says the plane crashed shortly after takeoff from a nearby private airstrip. Witnesses described the two-person aircraft flying low and sputtering before the crash.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the plane was a North American AT-6C.

The North American T-6 Texan is described online as a type of aircraft used to train many World War II pilots. Troyer says this plane was painted in authentic World War II colors.

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash.

The area is about 40 miles southeast of Seattle.