The helicopter's blades might have struck a canopy over a re-fueling area, according to a preliminary investigation. Annette Arreola reports for the NBC4 News at noon on Monday Nov. 26, 2012.
One person was killed late Sunday when a helicopter burned near a re-fueling area at Corona Municipal Airport.
The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the 11 p.m. fire. The identity of victim, the pilot, was not immediately available.
The charred wreckage of the helicopter remained at the airport early Monday. The pilot had stopped to refuel at the airport, located northwest of the 91 and 15 freeway interchange (map), when the fire started.
The FAA released the following statement: "An unidentified Robinson helicopter caught fire near the fuel pumps at Corona Municipal Airport around 11 p.m. Local authorities reported the pilot, who apparently was the only person on board, was killed. The FAA and NTSB will investigate."
A preliminary investigation indicated that one of the helicopter's blades hit a canopy that covers the pumps, which are available 24 hours per day, according to the NTSB. Two witnesses reported sounds coming from the re-fueling area before seeing the chopper on fire.
"He could have just been taxiing by, going to a parking area -- there's too much that we don't know at this point to speculate on that," said Harold Plagens, NTSB investigator.
Parts of the helicopter ripped through a nearby metal hanger. Video showed several gashes in the wall of the hangar.
Dental records will likely be used to identify the pilot, investigators told NBC4.
The airport, on 100 acres of land leased by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is managed by the city of Corona.