Feds Investigate Possible Causes of Corona Plane Crash That Killed Four

CORONA (CNS) - National Transportation Safety Board investigators spent part of today examining the burned wreckage of the single-engine airplane that crashed during takeoff from Corona Municipal Airport, killing all four on board.

The Beech Bonanza went down shortly after noon Wednesday as the pilot was trying to depart Runway 7 at the non-towered airfield.

None of the victims have been officially identified, but the Riverside County Coroner's Office indicated today that its deputies were in the process of making confirmations.

Federal authorities have declined to publicly release the Bonanza's tail number, which would likely yield information concerning the aircraft's pilot.

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.

A Corona Fire Department spokesman said that the Bonanza had been topped off with 80 gallons of 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.

Witnesses said that the pilot appeared unable to rotate the plane as he approached the runway edge. Corona Municipal Airport's single general aviation runway is only 3,200 feet long, and is bounded at both ends by thick brush, with power lines on the east end of the field.

A preliminary NTSB report on the crash will likely be published next week.

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