The crash, which happened at about 6:30 p.m. local time, caused a fireball that could be seen for miles away, the New York Daily News reported. The cause of the crash is still being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.
The Superstition Mountains are located some 40 miles east of Phoenix, and are a popular spot for rock climbers and hikers. Rescue crews reportedly had a difficult time reaching the wreckage of the Rockwell AC69 plane.
The Associated Press reported that the plane had traveled from the city of Safford to Falcon Field in Mesa to pick up three children for the Thanksgiving holiday, and was returning to Safford when it crashed into a 3,000-foot peak called Flat Iron.
The children reportedly were between the ages of 5 and 9. A pilot, a mechanic and another adult were also on board.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the mother of the children, who is herself a pilot, has been notified. The children were on their way to visit their father for the Thanksgiving holiday, the LA Times said.
According to the Associated Press:
The region near Lost Dutchman State Park and the Superstition Wilderness is filled with steep canyons, soaring rocky outcroppings and cactus. Treasure hunters who frequent the area have been looking for the legendary Lost Dutchman mine for more than a century.
The Daily News said "the Apaches Indians believe a portal to the netherworld is located in the mountains."
Security camera footage, taken at the base of the Superstition Mountains, shows the fiery crash