FULLERTON, CA (KCAL/KCBS/CNN) – A fatal plane crash occurred at Fullerton Municipal Airport on Thursday night.
The small twin-engine plane burst into flames just after takeoff, killing the pilot, who authorities said was the only person aboard.
No one was hurt on the ground.
Witnesses described a massive explosion, which they at first thought was an earthquake.
"It sounded like a little, very fast race car going by, but something didn't seem right, because then after that I heard a loud thump,” one witness said.
Capt. Cathy Schaefer of the Fullerton Fire Department said the twin-engine Beechcraft Duke took off just before 8:00 p.m., local time.
The pilot had filed a flight plan back to Heber City, UT.
But as the plane climbed to 50 feet, going 80 miles per hour, the pilot inexplicably banked left, and the six-seat plane took a nosedive with a full tank of fuel.
"We have an idea of who owns the plane,” Schaefer said. “He's in his early 50s, and according to the wife, who we have spoken to, he was headed to Utah."
Schaefer said the pilot was from Utah, and that he frequently flies between Fullerton and Heber City.