LAS VEGAS -- The federal investigation into the crash of a 61-year-old military aircraft is only beginning.
A report from the National Transportation Safety Board details the plane had a serious incident more than 30 years ago in Illinois.
The report indicates the plane was "substantially damaged" in 1981 during an incident and found the pilot exercised poor judgment. The plane was eventually repaired and sold off.
The plane had been used by the military for decades as a training tool.
Investigators must now rely on the wreckage to tell them what went wrong.
"We are documenting the wreckage, the ground scars and where different pieces are located," NTSB investigator Howard Plagens said.
Cody Hall, 23, and Joseph Edwards, 41, were flying from Chandler, Arizona to North Las Vegas when the plane went down near the Boulder City Airport. Both men are members of the Nevada Army National Guard. They were not in military status on the day of the crash.
NTSB Investigators said the pilot reported engine trouble and was trying to make an emergency landing at the Boulder City Airport.
Local pilots said an engine failure is something they train for all the time.
Daryl Governale is a chief pilot at West Air Aviation and sits on the Board of Directors for the Clark County Aviation Association. He said just by looking at the crash, it can tell a lot about how the pilot fought until the very end to try and land it.
"Pilots are highly trained, specifically in emergencies," Governale said. "From the recreational pilot all the way up to commercial airline transport pilots, there's recurrence training to make sure that these pilots still retain their skills over the course of the time they are flying."
Investigators will take a closer look on what went wrong this past weekend.
"Based on the post crash debris I saw, the plane landed on it's belly and appeared to be under control for the majority of the final approach, it's just unfortunate there was no clear area for the plane to roll to a safe stop," Governale said.
This is the second crash involving vintage military aircraft near the Boulder City Airport.
Last year, two people were killed when a single engine jet crashed just after take off.