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    6 killed in fiery crash of Cessna aircraft in French Valley
    • July 8, 2023

    Six people were killed when a Cessna business jet crashed just north of French Valley Airport Saturday morning, July 8, authorities said.

    The crash was reported around 4:15 a.m. in the area of Auld and Briggs roads in Murrieta. Arriving deputies found the plane fully engulfed in flames in a field, Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeret McClellan said.

    Six people were on board the Cessna C550 business jet, which took off from Harry Reid Airport in Las Vegas about 3:15 a.m., according to Mina Kaji, spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration.

    #FrenchValley Critical Incident Plane Crash Investigation

    Please stay out of the area.

    Road closures at:
    Briggs Road and Sky Canyon
    Briggs Road and Auld Road
    Auld Road and Industry Way

    Closed until further notice.

    — Riverside County Sheriff (@RSO) July 8, 2023

    FlightAware, a third-party flight tracking site, showed a plane that took off from Harry Reid Airport around 3:15 a.m. and, for unknown reasons, bypassed the runway at French Valley Airport traveling southbound, then fell short of the runway after attempting to circle back around for a second approach just before 4:15 a.m.

    The data show the pilot first attempted to land just before 4 a.m.

    Weather data from Ogimet, a website that provides weather conditions at airports in 20-minute intervals, showed mist and fog at French Valley Airport, with clouds roughly 300 feet above the surface and about a half-mile visibility in the interval surrounding the crash.

    The cloud ceiling and visibility were below the minimum for pilots to try to attempt a visual landing, said Robert Katz, a Dallas-based commercial pilot with 42 years of experience. Based on the weather and flight data, he said the pilot could have considered landing at another airport with better weather conditions.

    He also said the pilot should have been aware of the weather conditions before attempting an approach at French Valley Airport.

    “This is what we call in aviation ‘get-there-itis,’” Katz continued. “The crew wants to get there, the pilot is under pressure not to disappoint and not to divert anywhere else. This is what gets people killed.”

    The fire burned about an acre of vegetation before Cal Fire firefighters extinguished the flames, officials said.

    It was the second fatal crash near French Valley Airport this week. On July 4, a student pilot was killed and three others were injured when a Cessna 172 crashed while departing the airport.

    The preliminary report from the July 4 crash is expected from the National Transportation Safety Board in about three weeks.

    The FAA and NTSB are investigating the cause and circumstances of the Saturday morning crash.

    This is a developing story. Additional information will be added as it becomes available.

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    ​ Orange County Register