CORONA — The rugged hillside in Chino Hills was thick with fog and visibility was poor in the early morning hours when the private airplane carrying four Corona firefighters to a skiing vacation crashed, a witness and a meteorologist said Wednesday.
Ed Fortelny said he heard the Beechcraft Bonanza circle over his house several times early Tuesday, but could not see the plane because of darkness and fog. There was no hint of trouble from the sound of the engine, he said.
Fortelny, who was on the back patio drinking coffee before going to work, said the plane circled four or five times before he saw "a bright, orange glow" through the fog about a mile away.
"Prior to the crash, I listened for the sputtering of the engine, but there was never a variation in the sound," Fortelny said. "It was just the normal sound of an airplane engine."