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FILE - A pilot killed in a fiery plane crash in Southern California has been identified as 48-year-old Robert Ellis from Heber City. The California native and dentist had recently moved to Utah and commuted back and forth twice a week.

FULLERTON, Calif. — A pilot killed in a fiery plane crash at a Southern California airport has been identified as a 48-year-old Utah man.

Robert Kenner Ellis, 48, moved to Heber City in January after living and working as a dentist in Tustin, his mother, Sandra Ellis told KTLA. She said he would fly back and forth from his new home to his dental practice twice a week.

She described her son was "smart, loving and talented" and said he took an interest in mechanics at an early age.

"All I can say is, he died doing what he liked to do, and you can't knock him for that," Sandra Ellis said, adding that he leaves behind a wife and four sons.

The family, devout members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she said, is "doing OK."

"We have a strong feeling about life and death in the Mormon church — it's not as devastating as you think it might be," Sandra Ellis told the TV station. "I've always had the feeling that people never really are gone, they're just always in another place. It's not like you've lost them forever."

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Robert Ellis was in the process of taking off from the Fullerton Municipal Airport, southeast of Los Angeles, on Thursday at about 7:50 p.m. The Orange County Sheriff's Office reported that the plane was going 80 mph and was just 15 feet above ground when it crashed and burst into flames.

His flight plan had him landing in Heber City later that night.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor says the plane rolled to the left and caught fire. Video showed the aircraft burning in a fireball. The wings and tail were incinerated. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Contributing: Associated Press