However, Otay Mountain is noted by critics of the plan as an obstacle to operating a safe airport for passenger jets. A study released in February of last year warned that mountains to the east and northeast of the airport would pose problems for normal takeoffs and landings.
Saturday's was the second-worst private plane crash in San Diego County since 1979, investigators said. The first occurred in the Otay Mesa area near Brown Field.
Wreckage indicated that the wing of the British-made jet creased the side of the mountain, causing the plane to break apart, dump its fuel and then cartwheel in a northerly direction, said Jeff Rich with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Investigators said the crash site was near a large telecommunications complex, which feeds radio transmissions to law-enforcement agencies.
Michael Farley, assistant airport operator at Brown Field, said no navigation aids are available on nearby mountains to guide planes taking off or landing at the airport. But the facility does have a radar transmitter situated 3 miles north of the field to direct pilots, he said.
"It's not practical to put lights on top of every mountain," he said.
Rich of the transportation safety board said that learning exactly what happened would be difficult because the plane had no flight-data recorder. He said the twin-engine jet has a capacity for two crew members and eight passengers, the number on board at the time of impact. Rich said FAA regulations that take effect in September will require such aircraft to carry the recorders.
At the scene itself, debris from the aircraft lay on roadways that ring the mountaintop. Part of the fuselage from one of two Rolls-Royce engines was left virtually intact. Nearby was a book titled "The Book of Balance and Harmony," by Thomas Cleary, and several cans of shaving cream and hair spray.
McEntire's publicist, Jenny Bohler, said that band member Anthony Saputo, who died in the crash, had been reading Cleary's book during a recent concert stop in Alaska.
Lying near one piece of wreckage was a broken compact disc titled "Family Style" by the Vaughan Brothers. Stevie Ray Vaughan, one of two singers featured on the album, died in a helicopter crash in Wisconsin last August. "Family Style" was released after Vaughan's death.
Vaughan and the members of McEntire's band are the latest in a long line of pop musicians to have died in aviation disasters. The list includes Buddy Holly, Jim Croce, Rick Nelson, J.P (The Big Bopper) Richardson and Ritchie Valens, all of whom died in small-aircraft crashes, en route from one concert appearance to the next.
Sgt. Glenn Revell, a spokesman for the San Diego County's Sheriff's Department, released the names of the band members as follows:
Chris Austin; Paula Evans; Terry Jackson; Kirk Cappello; Michael Thomas; Anthony Saputo; Joey Cigainero, and tour manager Jim Hammon.
McEntire's spokeswoman said all the band members were from Nashville.
The red-haired McEntire, who speaks with a thick Southern accent, was born in McAlester, Okla., but now lives in Nashville, where, publicist Bohler noted, she recorded a Grammy Award-winning single in 1987 titled "Whoever's in New England."
Bohler said that all members of the band, except for its newest member, Chris Austin, were featured on the singer's 1989 album, "Reba McEntire Live." Kirk Cappello was the only victim of Saturday's crash featured on McEntire's most recent studio album, "Rumor Has It," released in 1990.
Cappello's parents, Edna and Phillip Cappello, said from their home in Florissant, Mo., Saturday night that music "meant everything" to their son, who is survived as well by two sisters.
"Music was the only thing he wanted to do from the time he was a kid," Phillip Cappello said. "He was like all kids, listening to the radio and watching the rock groups."
Cappello said that his son was about to turn 29 and that each of the other victims were roughly the same age. Kirk Cappello was a keyboard player who had modeled himself, his father said, after Keith Emerson of the group Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Cappello had performed with country singer Barbara Mandrell for five years before joining McEntire's band, his father said.
Reba McEntire canceled her concert scheduled Saturday night at Fort Wayne, and another scheduled today in Evansville, Ind., said McClanahan, the singer's spokeswoman. However, McEntire is expected to appear at the Academy Awards presentation on March 25, where she will sing "I'm Checkin' Out," which was sung by Meryl Streep in the movie "Postcards from the Edge."