EASTPORT, N.Y. (AP) _ A small plane carrying three first-time parachutists and their instructor crashed shortly after takeoff, injuring them and killing their pilot.

The single-engine Cessna 182 took off from the private Spadaro Airport on eastern Long Island on Saturday evening and immediately ran into some kind of problem, said Robert Fulton, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The plane circled the airport and the pilot tried to make an emergency landing, but the plane crashed on approach to the runway, Fulton said.

There were no obvious clues to why the plane went down, said Ray Maynard, owner of Skydive Long Island in East Moriches, the school where the plane was registered.

Investigators from the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board arrived Sunday.

Two of the passengers were in critical condition Sunday at University Hospital in Stony Brook, officials said. Two others suffered minor injuries.