Small Plane Crash-Lands on California Street
A light airplane lost power while waiting to land and came down near a church in El Cajon, California, on Sept 17.
The pilot and passenger of the single-engine plane walked away without any major injuries.
The plane, a 32-year-old Piper P28A, also called a Warrior II, was in a holding pattern waiting to land at nearby Gillespie Field, when its engine failed at about 1:45 in the afternoon, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Allen Kenitzer.
The plane had taken off from Gillespie Field, flown north toward Warner Springs, and was heading home when the crash occurred. The plane came down about half a mile from the airport.
The pilot was able to descend with some measure of control, but the plane still hit hard enough to crumple one wing.
The plane took out several power lines as it landed, cutting electricity to the area. Fuel gushed out of the crashed plane, but luckily did not ignite. An emergency response team quickly cleaned up the spilled fuel.
Sonny Saghera, spokesperson for Heartland Fire-Rescue, didn’t know what to expect when he got the call about a plane crash.
“We just got it as a plane down, so it’s hard to know until we get there,” Saghera said. “When we saw it, it was in the middle of the street and the people were already outside of the plane. It landed right in the middle of the street, and the street was pretty big.”
“I have never heard such a loud metal-mangling mess in my life,” crash witness Marty Bowman told local news station NBC 7. “Now I know what a plane sounds like when it drops out of the sky.”
The plane landed right in front of a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “If you’re going to crash and crash in front of the church somebody’s looking out for you,” Bowman quipped.
The plane is registered to Brian Fink of Ramona, California, whom according to his LinkedIn profile is a software engineer at Qualcomm.
The Federal Aviation Authority and National Transportation Safety Board officials are investigating the crash.
The crash is the second in seven months by a flight out of Gillespie Field. A student flight from the facility crashed on Feb. 12 of this year. The trainee pilot, 21-year-old Shaira Noor, of Bangladesh, was killed by a tree which impaled the cockpit. The instructor and another passenger survived with minor injuries..
The two survivors had to hike to the top of a hill to get cell service to summon aid.
At least two other flights from Gillespie Field have crash-landed in neighborhoods around the airfield in the past two years.
One of those was also a training flight. The instructor and student were killed in that crash on Sept. 3, 2015. Witnesses said the plane could be heard “sputtering” as it bank sharply and dropped onto a house in the town of Santee, next door to the airfield.