The Sunday night explosion at Corona Municipal Airport hurled shrapnel that punctured the side of a hangar at the Riverside County airport.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor says the four-seat Robinson R-44 helicopter's rotor blades apparently hit the structure over the fuel pumps.
The aircraft was destroyed and the pilot was killed. The name of the pilot hasn't been released.
A National Transportation Safety Board investigator was on the scene early Monday.
The coroner's office says the name of the pilot is being withheld.
A Corona police dispatcher says the fire was reported at 11:08 p.m. Sunday and there are no other details.
Information from: KTTV-TV, http://www.fox11la.com/