A private webcam captured video of the crash. The twin engine aircraft had flown into Falcon Field in Mesa and crashed shortly after takeoff, starting small fires that continued to burn.
It's believed that six people were onboard- three children, and three adults. The children reportedly ranged in age from 5 to 9.
Witnesses say the plane appeared to rev its engines trying to climb over the 5,000-foot peaks.
"This aircraft flew from Safford to Falcon Field in Mesa to pick up children for Thanksgiving to go back to Safford. So it's heartbreaking if that's the case," said Paul Babeau from Pinal County Sheriff's Department.
Search teams were brought in by helicopter. A sheriff's spokesman says one child's body was recovered late Wednesday night, but additional information wasn't immediately available.
Investigators at the scene have not identified the aircraft. But the Federal Aviation Administration said it was a Rockwell Twin Commander. It is registered to Ponderosa Aviation in Safford.
The names of the six people aboard haven't been released.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.