Four people were killed Wednesday when a small plane crashed at the Corona Municipal Airport, authorities said.
Corona police and firefighters responded shortly after noon to the scene, where they found a plane on fire in nearby brush, the Corona Police Department said in a tweet. Firefighters extinguished the blaze, which spread to a small grassy area. Officials said the plane had a full tank of 80 gallons of fuel upon takeoff.
The crash occurred on the east side of the airport, which is now closed to flights. Photos posted on social media showed several planes parked nearby.
A man who said he witnessed the crash described to OnScene.TV what appeared to be a problematic takeoff. The plane initially lifted off the ground, he said, but didn’t gain altitude. The plane bounced back onto the runway before the pilot attempted another takeoff.
“He went ahead and gunned the motor, gained some more airspeed and took off again. But the wingtips were going from one side to the other and the nose was pitched up,” the man said. “He flew into right where he landed.”
The man described the four occupants of the plane as two women and two men.
Dorothe Voll, a licensed pilot who lives in Corona, described a similar scene. She said the pilot tried roughly three times to take off but got only two to three feet off the ground.
“He didn’t have enough speed to lift off,” she said. “He didn’t pull back.”
Voll said the plane flipped before it crashed. Those in the hangar ran toward the crash site, some with fire extinguishers in hand in an attempt to put out the fire that erupted.
Federal Aviation Administration representative Ian Gregor said the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash, which destroyed the aircraft.
No other details were available.
Special correspondent Jerry Soifer contributed to this report.