Four people were killed Wednesday when a single-engine airplane crashed just northeast of Corona Municipal Airport, triggering a fire.
The Beech Bonanza went down shortly after noon as the pilot was trying to depart Runway 7 at the non-towered airport.
According to Corona police, fire crews reached the crash site within 10 minutes and found the plane engulfed in flames, which were doused after burning about a quarter-acre of brush. No homes or other structures were in the immediate vicinity.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating the cause of the crash.
A Corona Fire Department spokesman said the Bonanza had been topped off with gasoline, suggesting that with all four 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.
A preliminary report on the crash will likely be available next week.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: