The jet, a Czech-made Aero Vodochody L39, crashed Friday for unknown reasons shortly after takeoff about half a mile from the airport, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor.
Boulder City Police Chief Thomas Finn said the crash took place around 12:30 p.m. "The plane landed flat," he said. "It pancaked into the desert."
The engine caught fire shortly after the crash, burning the read end of the aircraft, the Las Vegas Sun reported.
The pilot of another L39 that took off next to the doomed jet said he heard the other pilot issue a mayday call seconds before the plane slammed back down to the ground.
Airport employees said they saw the plane go down shortly after lift off.
"Liftoff and one to two minutes after are the most dangerous," said pilot Victor Thomas. "That's when things can go wrong if they're going to."