Pilot Killed in Fiery Small Plane Crash During Takeoff at Fullerton Airport

The plane, which had just fueled up, ended up on a taxiway, where it was engulfed in flames, according to a fire official

A twin-engine plane loaded with fuel crashed and burned Thursday night while taking off from Fullerton Airport in Southern California, killing the pilot.

The pilot was identified Friday as 48-year-old Robert Kenner Ellis.

The six-seat Beechcraft Duke crashed about 7:50 p.m. while departing from Runway 24 at Fullerton Municipal Airport, authorities said. The plane was traveling about 80 mph and was around 15 feet off the ground when it veered left and crashed to the ground, exploding into a fireball, according to Fullerton Fire Department Division Chief Kathy Schaeffer.

Cellphone video from people who live near the Fullerton airport show the bright glow of the flames and the thick, black smoke coming from the plane.

"We come out to see what that was and it just happened to be the worst thing it could possible be," said Jacob Francis, who ran out of his house thinking the loud noise came from a big car crash.

A pilot died after a twin-engine plane crashed and caught fire taking-off at the Fullerton Airport

Crews arrived within 10 minutes of dispatch and had the fire out by 8:13 p.m., she said. The pilot was pronounced dead at the scene, Schaeffer said.


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The plane, which had just fueled up, ended up on a taxiway, where it was engulfed in flames, she said.

The pilot had filed a flight plan from Fullerton to Heber City Municipal Airport in Heber, Utah, according to Ian Gregor of the Federal Aviation Administration. Firefighters from Anaheim and the Orange County Fire Authority also responded to the crash, Schaeffer said.

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