CORONA (CNS) – Four people were killed Wednesdy when a single-engine airplane crashed just northeast of Corona Municipal Airport, triggering a fire.
The plane crashed shortly after noon as the pilot was trying to depart Runway 7 at the non-towered airport.
“The unidentified aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances,” Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor told City News Service.
“The aircraft was destroyed.”
According to Corona police, fire crews reached the crash site within 10 minutes and found the plane in flames, which were doused after burning about a quarter-acre of brush.
No homes or other structures were in the immediate vicinity.
A Corona Fire Department spokesman said the aircraft had been topped off with gasoline, suggesting that with all seats occupied, it may have been overloaded. The plane hit a fence after rising only a few feet from the runway surface, causing it to cartwheel onto vacant property owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Dorothe Voll, a pilot, told the Press-Enterprise that the ill-fated aviator “didn’t pull back, and he was too fast at the end of the runway.”
“He flipped, and everybody was running, and it started on fire,” Voll said. “Then you had two explosions … We brought over fire extinguishers but it was all engulfed.”
The victims were not immediately identified.
Gregor said the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.