An investigation has been launched into the death of atrainee pilot, killed when his aircraft crashed during an agricultural operation yesterday.

Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Mike Richards said the pilot was flying solo in a Fletcher 24 when it crashed about 1.40pm in Waikite Valley, 30km south of Rotorua.

An experienced pilot was flying behind him and witnessed the tragedy unfold, he said.

The CAA will begin investigating the cause of the incident today.