Update: 1 Killed in West L.A. Plane Crash

Pilot took off from Santa Monica Airport. No reports of injuries to anyone on the ground.

A small plane crashed in a West Los Angeles neighborhood Friday shortly after taking off from , killing one person aboard but causing no injuries to anyone on the ground.

The pilot of the single-engine Cessna 210 radioed the Santa Monica tower at about 6:10 p.m. to declare an emergency and advised he would try to return to the airport, according to Ian Gregor of the Federal Aviation Administration.

The plane was registered to a Santa Monica resident. It was unclear where the pilot, whose name was unavailable early Saturday, was traveling, Gregor said.


The four-place, high-wing plane with retractable landing gear crashed in the 2100 block of South Glendon Avenue a short time later, about three miles northeast of the airport. The aircraft broke into several pieces, with the bulk of the wreckage bursting into flames at the base of a palm tree that burned to its trunk.

One person was found dead in the wreckage. 

"It was very fortunate that the plane did not hit a house, and that there were no injuries to residents," said Los Angeles Fire Department Assistant Chief Andy Fox. 

He said that a firefighter was already on the scene due to an unrelated traffic accident, so crews were able to respond right away and put the fire out quickly.

Guy Cohen was driving by the intersection of South Glendon Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard when "the plane jut blew up in smoke," he said.

He said the plane appeared to be flying in a gradual decline until it hit the tree.

A man who said he was driving in the area shortly before the crash told NBC4 he noticed a small plane flying abnormally low.

"I didn't hear any abnormal engine noise," the man said, adding that he saw no signs of distress in the way the plane was flying, other than the fact is was "extremely" low.

"It was a red flag immediately," he said.

Another witness told the station the plane appeared to clip the top of a dead palm tree and crash to the ground.

The crash will be investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

"We found some remnants of the wings and the tail section," said Los Angeles Police Department Cmmdr. Bill Scott.

On Aug. 29 of last year, a student pilot broke his leg and injured a man on the ground when he crashed a single-engine Cessna into a home near 21st and Navy in Santa Monica after taking off from .

The accident was the first known to have involved a student pilot directly associated with a Santa Monica-based flight school.


Local Pilot August 16, 2012 at 06:42 AM
This accident had nothing directly to do with KSMO. The fact of the matter is that we have many airports distributed throughout Southern California in more or less densely populated areas. If you want to address the safety of general aviation, you would be more on target. The people who live around KSMO don't like the noise. I'm sure it was a well-kept secret at the time they were tricked into buying their homes. Unfortunately, the same people try to address their personal noise complaints indirectly by citing safety concerns with the airport. This is probably the best form of leverage that they think they have. I think you (we) need to ask the question: When was anyone other than a pilot injured or killed by an airplane operating on and in the vicinity of KSMO and is the incidence disproportionately higher than at any other airport in the country? Just a thought.
an interested observer August 16, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Well, you're wrong on a couple of fronts. Flight school operations are down 50% from years past, probably due to the economy. Second, Jet traffic as well as all traffic is down 30% from years past. Not knocking your wanting the airport closed, but manufacturing false statements doesn't help your cause. BTW, One company I deal with in Santa Monica that employs close to 50 people has already told me they will relocate to another airport area if SMO were to close, as their business requires access to a GA airport. So Business's in SM would be impacted as well.
Jim Kett August 29, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Santa Monica is a beautiful city with a beautiful airport. The only air pollution I provided was when I flew in and out of the airport. Each time I stayed several days, spent money, and got around on foot and by bus. Had I driven a car I would have polluted more and added to the traffic and parking problems on the already busy streets. I understand the differences of opinion, but I hope the SMO airport continues well into the future, providing an alternative to southern California's ridiculously busy streets and highways. Hopefully the Santa Monica residents will come up with solutions that take into account the wide range of viewpoints that are being expressed.
ChrisJ August 31, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Ahhh, no. Residents should relocate. When this airport was built, it was sparsely populated around the airfield. People CHOSE to build their houses next to the airport. What were they thinking?
JP October 06, 2012 at 02:33 PM
I think a compromise is good: Why not have airplane traffic actually go over Santa Monica and not the neighboring areas? If SM wants to keep the airport, its residents should face the rewards and consequences. This is completely feasible and actually was done for a short period of time until SM residents voiced complaints and then the traffic moved back over West LA. Also, keeping the airport is fine as long as it's safe. Numerous reports have shown that the runways are not the appropriate length for some of the newer planes that go in and out of that place. Those planes should be forbidden from using the airport. Hopefully those who argue that the airport was there first can agree with that as those large planes were definitely not there when the airport first opened.


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