Riverside, CA Private Plane Crash, Nov 1983


Riverside - A light plane crashed in a ball of fire Thursday evening on Magnolia Avenue, near Washington Street, burning to death the plane's two occupants and two dogs also riding in the plane.
A third dog, covered in flames was seen running from the wreckage after the crash, Police Sgt. Bill Miller said. Officers found the dog several hours later, on Tibbets Street, about one block from the wreck. The Humane Society had to kill it.
Three were no reports of injured people on the ground, Miller said, but the plane reportedly sheared off one wing before smashing into the usually busy intersection.
Riverside Deputy Coroner Scotty Hill said dental records would have to be used to identify the crash victims, who were burned beyond recognition.
Miller said all local planes at the airport had reportedly been accounted for so police believe the plane is from out of town.
According to a Federal Aviation Agency spokesman, the pilot of the Piper Cherokee sent a mayday call to the Riverside Municipal Airport tower about 7:20 p.m., five to 10 minutes after the eastbound plane left the airport.
The plane crashed about five minutes after the mayday call was sent, FAA duty officer Tommy Aina said.
No cause for the crash has been determined.
The plane snapped a high voltage power pole, leaving about 400 to 500 Southern California Edison customers in the dark, a company worker said.
The fireball that followed the crash singed some leaves on nearby trees. The fire department used foam to quash the flames.
Kerry Stilwell said she and a friend saw the crash during a break from religious studies at nearby St. Catherine's Catholic Church. "You could see like a big light - it was like red, and then all of a sudden there was dark smoke."
Witnesses reported the plane engine was not running when it crashed about 1 1/2 to 2 miles from the airport, Miller said. Investigators agreed by examining the way the propeller was bent.
"It apparently was rotating, but it was not under power," Miller said.
The plane crashed about 500 feet from the Riverside Parent Navel Orange Tree, a historic landmark. The tree is believed to be one of the first orange trees planted in Riverside.

San Bernardino County Sun California 1983-11-04