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Original post made
on Jun 24, 2011
Why isn't the FAA identifying the pilot/owner of the plane? That information is on-line, accessible via the tail code.
Strange that the local paper wouldn't at least make that information available to the people living underneath this airport. With East Palo Alto so close, people in that town ought to be concerned about the fact that people are flying airplanes in/out of that facility without having much control over the engines of the planes.
"Why No Identities", is that really your first reaction to this news? Very compassionate... Planes fly overhead all over the world - hard to keep them from flying over populated areas. My first reaction was that I am very happy these folks are ok - amazing no one was hurt. Accidents happen - and I think there are a lot of automobiles out there that put pedestrians and cyclists and other motorists at great risk every day - but we don't stop driving.
In this case the owner of the plane was probably not in the plane: the plane was a rental plane based at KPAO, and so the pilot was likely not the owner.
Why No Identities: The pilot is typically not the owner. If you'd taken your own advice and looked up the owner of the plane, that would have been immediately apparent. The people of Palo Alto should be just as concerned now about aircraft flying in and out of that airport as they were when they chose to buy property there. Your comment about pilots not "having much control over the engines of the planes" strikes me as horrifically insensitive and ignorant about machines that have engines in them. Operators of vehicles (cars, airplanes, whatever) are not psychic and can't always know when something mechanical is about to fail. It sounds like the pilot may have done everything correctly here, and managed to put the plane down someplace safe rather than through someone's roof. That's what pilots are trained to do when things like this happen. Your animosity here seems misdirected.
Or are you just trying to drum up outrage so that enough people will vote to close the airport, thereby raising your property values? Is that how people are trying to avoid foreclosure nowadays?
Tiger got to hunt. Bird got to fly. Man got to sit and wonder
why why why.
"...people will vote to close the airport, thereby raising your property values..."
Closing airports raises property values? Nice confession. It therefore follows that open airports depreciate property values. Since PAO is a government facility, the Fifth Amendment takings clause applies, and the airport ought to be compensating people for the value it is taking from their properties, right?
The FAA has a preliminary record of this accident on its web-site.
Regis#: 222MF Make/Model: C172 Description: 172, P172, R172, Skyhawk, Hawk XP, Cutla
Date: 06/24/2011 Time: 0324
Event Type: Accident Highest Injury: None Mid Air: N Missing: N
City: PALO ALTO State: CA Country: US
The Daily Post ran a front page picture of the overturned aircraft, too, with the tail code clearly visible.
Looking up the tail code:
Registration Type: Corporation
Owner: Aviolease Llc
Address: Pmb 5457
Wilmington, DE 19808
Here's a somewhat detailed report:
Time: 8:20pm LT
Type: Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP
Operator: Aviolease LLC
C/n / msn: 172S9391
Fatalities: Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities: 0
Airplane damage: Substantial
Location: Palo Alto Baylands, CA - United States of America
Departure airport: Buchanan Field Airport - KCCR
Destination airport: Palo Alto Airport - KPAO
Three men walked away from a plane crash in the Palo Alto Baylands, CA, Thursday evening after their plane nose-dived and landed upside down, officials said.
The single-engine Cessna 172S apparently lost power as it approached the Palo Alto Airport (KPAO) and crashed in a marsh southwest of the runway at about 8:20 p.m., fire and aviation officials said. One of the three men on board was taken to a hospital with back pain, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.
If the owner is on the East Coast, who is taking care of the mechanical work on this plane?
This is at least the third incident in the last 18 months (including the Tesla tragedy).
East Palo is at risk.
The Palo Alto airport should be closed, in my view.
Scheduled maintenance on these rental aircraft is performed by FAA licensed mechanics at the Palo Alto airport. Regular inspections and oil changes. Most common reason for engine power loss in modern aircraft is fuel mismanagement. The pilot is responsible for various configuration changes prior to a normal landing. But certainly could have been a maintenance issue. Important to note that power loss is not control loss. Just an alarmingly quiet gentle glide to the surface, touching down at maybe 50-55 mph air-speed, which you can subtract 10 mph or more out there by steering into the wind. Uneven or marshy ground can grab the wheels and flip these fixed-gear small planes onto their back. Retractables in this situation are often belly landed wheels-up to minimize this probability. Primary consideration is always that nobody gets hurt, on the plane or on the ground. The terms here "nose-dive" and "crash" apparently come from the SJ Mercury reporter. When reporting auto accidents they seem to do a much better job distinguishing between a rollover (like a driver misjudging speed on a wet off-ramp) and a crash (like a drunk running into a bridge abutment).
East Palo Alto is at risk??
So, by that logic, should we close down the 101 because there are crashes everyday on it? BTW, Have you ever gone up in a single engine plane? They are safe and reliable. I'd much rather fly to work every day than drive. And yes, I'm a pilot.
I think the most important aspect of this accident is that the passengers all survived and are in good shape. With the plane coming to rest on relatively solid ground they were also fortunate enough to be able to walk only a short distance to safety.
To reduce any further damage to the Baylands the plane will be lifted out by helicopter and moved onto the nearby car parking area where it will be dismantled and taken out by truck.
> Scheduled maintenance on these rental aircraft is performed by
> FAA licensed mechanics at the Palo Alto airport.
Well .. here is a little insight about prior problems with N222MF:
On June 1st, 2006, I passed my instrument checkride. Training started two months prior in late March 2006.
I arrived at West Valley Flying Club in Palo Alto around 12pm, two hours before my checkride was scheduled. The idea was to get the aircraft logbooks for N222MF and look them over prior to heading out to preflight the plane. After a half-hour of pouring over logbooks looking for the various required inspections, I headed out to the ramp to start my preflight. After checking all of the lights and heading back to the cockpit to shut them off, I noticed something discouraging: The electric turn coordinator was still flagged. Dispite having flown my last 4 flights in this aircraft in preparation for the checkride, I was not going to be able to use it. I locked up the plane and headed back to the front desk to negotiate a different aircraft.
Googling about for "electric turn coordinator", the cost for this piece of equipment is about $1,400. If the owner of this aircraft is a leasing company on the East Coast, who is responsible for the maintenance on the West Coast? When will the log books for these planes be put on-line, so that the residents of Palo Alto, and East Palo Alto, can begin to do the work of checking up on these "flying clubs", and get them closed down when it becomes clear that they are acting irresponsibly.
Bogus claims about FAA-registered mechanics didn't keep this plane from crashing, nor the previous one either:
Sunday, February 27, 2011
(02-26) 17:23 PST Palo Alto -- A man's plan to fly his single-engine plane from Palo Alto to Illinois ended abruptly today when his engine cut out and he was forced to land in the muddy salt flats across the bay in Alameda County.
Shortly after taking off from the Palo Alto Airport this afternoon, the Cessna 140's engine began sputtering, said Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman. The pilot tried to return to the airport but instead had to ditch the plane just south of the Dumbarton Rail Bridge, at roughly 12:40.
The pilot landed the plane safely and escaped before the plane flipped upside down, Schapelhouman said. The pilot's only injury was a jammed finger.
How many of these people carry insurance to cover hospitalization of all injured in a crash? In the two most previous crashes, no one was killed, but in the Feb. 2010 crash in East Palo Alto, two people besides the pilot were killed. It could have been a lot worse. The "pilot community" seems to be simply incapable of understanding the agony of people on the ground when these poorly insured people are flying over their homes with very little training in engine maintenance, or little more training than a basic pilot's license.
This airport is too close to too many people to be allowed to stay open.
> They are safe and reliable.
Seems the FAA has a different view on the matter--
One of the FAA's top priorities is to reduce the number of fatal accidents in general aviation, just as we have worked to reduce fatal accidents in commercial aviation. Similar to commercial aviation, the FAA is focused on reducing general aviation accidents by using a non-regulatory, proactive strategy to get results. Our goal is to reduce the general aviation fatal accident rate per 100,000 flight hours by 10 percent over a 10-year period (2009-2018).
General Aviation crashes/fatalities are about 10x that of commercial aviation.
> Most common reason for engine power loss in modern aircraft
> is fuel mismanagement.
This can be seen from reading the FAA/NTSB reports on crashes at the Palo Alto airport. A goodly number of them cite "Out of fuel" as the primary reason for the crash. Sadly, these pilots don't seem to be be cited with "reckless endangerment", and these licenses pulled.
The Top 10 Leading Causes of General Aviation Accidents
Below are the top ten leading causes of fatal general aviation accidents in 2008 and 2009 (Part 91 and Part 135-unscheduled). These are the top causes identified as the "defining event" by the NTSB.
o) Loss of Control in flight while maneuvering: 26
o) Loss of Control in flight during initial climb: 21
o_ Aerodynamic stall or spin while maneuvering during low altitude flying: 12
o) Low altitude operation or event while maneuvering during low altitude flying: 10
o) Controlled Flight into Terrain/object (CFIT) during enroute cruise: 8
o) Aerodynamic stall or spin during initial climb: 8
o) Visual Flight Rules (VFR) encounter with IMC during enroute: 7
o) Loss of Control in flight during enroute cruise: 7
o) Loss of Control in flight while maneuvering during low altitude flying: 7
o) Collision with terrain or an object (non-CFIT) while maneuvering during low altitude flying: 7
Notice that "loss of control" contributes to a significant number of crashes. It's interesting that the term "fuel management" does not appear in the FAA's Too-10 list.
@think first, post later - your post is typically insensitive, as we've seen on this board before, from pilots. All about defending what you do, instead of being open to other povs about the dangers. Yeah, too many accidents, too near EPA.
> They are safe and reliable.
> I think the most important aspect of this accident is
> that the passengers all survived
And it didn't take long for another small plane to crash into a residence somewhere in the US, destroying people's lives and property:
FAA: 2 dead, 1 injured in Michigan plane crash:
CHARLEVOIX, Mich. A federal official says two people were killed when a small, single-engine plane slammed into a garage in a residential area near an airport in Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula.
> The people of Palo Alto should be just as concerned now about
> aircraft flying in and out of that airport as they were when
> they chose to buy property there.
This is the kind of callousness that we have come to expect from the so-called "pilot community" -- "we have rights, you people on the ground are just unimportant little ants".
This problem of having the constant fear of a plane crashing into your home, and killing your loved ones, can be easily solved by moving the Palo Alto Airport to some other location. It is a constant threat to life and limb where it is now.
The airport is not going to be shut down, no matter how much clueless whining people do here. Google "Chicken Little story" to get some perspective.
@ Why-No-Identities? and Observer
I encourage both of you to head to a local general aviation airport and talk with members of a flight club. The folks in the GA community are very friendly and will be happy to discuss how their airplanes are maintained, insurance, safety protocols, walk you around an airplane, etc. Heck, go grab an introductory flight lesson and you'll learn more in 1 hour about aviation than reading blogs and googling 'facts'. If you still are concerned with airport operations, please get involved so your voices can be heard.
You may want to do some more research on electric turn coordinators before spouting off your rant about airplanes at local airports being poorly maintained. Electric turn coordinators ARE NOT required instruments when flying under VFR, so, it's legal to fly with an inoperable turn-coordinator (I'd say a vast majority of General Aviation airplanes fly under VFR, like Cessnas and Pipers).
Also, it's not reasonable to say...'just move the airport to another location'. The airport was here long before most people bought their homes (Palo Alto airport has been in continuous operation since 1935). Again, I encourage you to go to local airport meetings and get involve in the aviation community if you don't like something about it.
All of the pilots I have ever flown with are extremely cautious of the areas the fly over. And, of course we are open to other point of views in local communities, especially how to minimize noise pollution (most all airports have departure procedures to limit noise pollution).
To most people, pilots are the "other". It's not about safety but our natural tendency to restrict others personal options that we ourselves don't do or have. You hear rants against tiger moms, SUVs, Caltrain, bicyclists, McMansions, kids applying to Ivy League schools, gay marriage, religion, abortion. Any accident, suicide, disease or economic disparity is proof that some activity must be curtailed. Aviation critics change their tune and beam with pride when one of their own children becomes a pilot. When we're flying commercial across the country not a thought is given to all the people's heads we're above.
> I encourage both of you to head to a local general aviation
> airport and talk with members of a flight club
And what do you think such a trip to talk to "the boys" is going to reveal? If one asked a "flying club" member, how many accidents at the PAO (Palo Alto Airport) occurred since 1964, do you think any one of them would provide the same answer the FAA does? 150 accidents!
And if these same pilots were asked about nation accident data for 2001-2010 for the whole General Aviation "club", would any one of them correctly say: "Almost 36,000."
like the NTSB's web-site records?
What exactly do you think that these people, who have no obligation to tell the public the truth, are going to tell the public? Will they tell the public about the time that they "almost ran out of gas", or took the plane up without adequate safety checks? And what about drinking and flying?
Characteristics of alcohol-related fatal general aviation crashes [An article from: Accident Analysis and Prevention:
Or will they tell you how they "police themselves"? And if you ask, "OK, tell me about last three incidents where 'the club' actually had to 'police' someone?" .. do you think that they have any records of the incident, or that such incidents actually happened at all?
And if you asked: "do you think any fees you pay to store your aircraft here, or to use the runways, pay for the total cost of operating this facility?", what kind of an answer do you think we'd get?
And finally, if we asked: "Why shouldn't the identifies of the pilots and the plane owners be made public at the time of the crash--just like automobile crashes?" .. what kind of an answer do you think we'd get?
Sorry .. but there is nothing much than anyone can learn that would be the reliable truth, from talking to a bunch of pilots at a "flying club".
> Also, it's not reasonable to say...'just move the airport to another
> location'. The airport was here long before most people bought their
> homes (Palo Alto airport has been in continuous operation since
The current location was chosen because the pilots at the previous site (on the Stanford lands next to College Terrace) were so irresponsible, and the location was so poorly chosen for a city on the leading edge of much growth, that a lawsuit was in the works against Stanford/the flight center operator. The airport was moved prior to this suit's materializing. However, it is clear from reading the old newspaper accounts that the pilots were not at all "mature and responsible", and the residents feared for their lives and property.
Moving this airport is very "doable". There is more than ample space at the Moffett Air Base (or what's left of it), and there is also the possibility of moving some of the planes to the San Carlos Airport (although this would take some study to see what the impact would be).
There are only about 80 (or so) Palo Alto residents (out of 64,000) who actually keep their aircraft at this airport, so there is no reason to claim that this 80 people have a right to $500M worth of public space, and non-residents certainly have no right to make that claim.
I don't really want to get involved in this again.
The county of Santa Clara presently runs the airport. It is a county amenity so asking how many Santa Clara residents use the airport is a better question than how many Palo Alto residents use the airport, if the question should be asked at all.
In the 1930s there were a lot of reckless automobile drivers around who had never been tested on their abilities to drive a car or know the rules of the road. Nowadays that is not the case. Likewise, rules for private flying have been tightened up. You can't compare the pilots of the 30s with today's pilots just like you can't compare 30s drivers with today's drivers.
I don't understand the arrogance of those opponents to the airport who think that just because they don't use it there is no benefit. There are many other dangerous (???) activities which are not banned. How about all the large numbers of cyclists in large groups that ride their bikes up Page Mill and Sand Hill roads making it very dangerous for anyone in a car? Should they be banned too?
No, of course not. We all live together and share the facilities, amenities and recreation opportunities as well as the business opportunities that come from them.
There are far more accidents on roads and yet we don't quibble over the numbers to suggest that roads should be abandoned! This accident was fortunately a "successful failure". Those on the plane are probably counting their blessings. We should all be thankful for that, as unlike the driver of the big rig that drove into an Amtrak train yesterday killing himself and one person on the train, accidents often a time of reckoning.
"think first, post later", your comments are nothing but hedonism and shameless 'I want to play and the hell with everybody else, me-me-me-me' attitude. General aviation airports adjacent to residential neighborhoods are in no way analogous to freeways and I won't even waste any keyboard strokes on explaining why, for the umpteen time.
I just checked my log book and I've flown this aircraft several times in the past. I actually had a weird incident in it once while flying into Stockton and practicing instrument approaches. The alternator gave out while I was in instrument conditions and I ended up having to shoot an approach into Livermore, land and wait until the fog burned off. When I fired the plane back up again the alternator started working again and was able to safely fly back to Palo Alto.
Each of the other times I've flown it were event free, and I think it's a pretty nice airplane. The electrical turn coordinator mentioned earlier in the posts really would not have been a factor in this accident. That instrument really only helps you coordinate a turn and frankly in this case the pilot should have been looking outside of the aircraft. Without knowing more details about the accident, my guess is that after the engine gave out the pilot stalled the aircraft and put it into a spin. Which, if the case, the occupants are lucky to be alive.
Someday we will get the pilot's version. Doubt a stall/spin scenario; that would be a worse wreck. Missing nose wheel looks like he held it off as long as possible in ground effect until it finally did come down, nose wheel dug in, and on over-easy they went. Skillful or lucky landing spot. Not much dry unobstructed ground out there. I'd say southeast of the runway, not southwest as stated in the article. Odd that photo shows flaps retracted.
PatrickD and "musical", thanks for the posts. Can you explain something? The PAPD radio traffic (Web Link) says that the crash happened south of the airport. The PAFD radio traffic (Web Link) says that the pilot had 3/4 of fuel in the wing which is located at the top of aircraft. So, the center of gravity would be somewhat high.
Looking at the pictures, PAO is to the left, Moffett is to the right. But, the tail of the plane is on the right. If the pilot did such a great job bringing down the plane safely on soft ground, shouldn't the plane have flipped so that the tail is on left and not the right? The video from KNTV, apparently taken the next day (Web Link), shows that left landing gear collapsed and the left wing strut bent. Doesn't that confirm that the pilot corkscrewed the plane nose first into the ground going away from PAO as the witness in the SJMercury said (Web Link)?
I haven't been out there but photos above look like they are past the duck pond, from midway down the dead end road that's a right turn near the interpretive center. Note green-forested mountains in background are our own hills, not the east bay, i.e. photo is toward the southwest. PAO is to the right and you are correct, the tail does point toward the runway. When they say "south" of the airport, it's the sense of going south on 101, actually kind of east. The near brown hills behind the airplane in the telephoto is the PA dump. In the second photo the line of trees to the right behind the plane is the landscaping that hides our sewage treatment plant. Given the aircraft is 27 feet long, a little geometry against the scale on the Google maps aerial photo tells me the plane is about 350 feet from the photographer. The left gear is bent back but not torn off like the nose gear. That's what I'd get holding it a few feet off the ground until it ran out of lift and nosed-wheeled in. Anything less coordinated would have noticeably bent a wing. The wingtips are still in great shape and the engine cowling is barely dented. I'd guess the left wing-strut buckled when the plane flipped onto its roof. The wing loading doesn't take as many g's in that unconventional direction. Didn't understand the 3/4 fuel message. Maybe dispatch misunderstood something. Plane holds 56 gallons, 28 per wing, but shouldn't have started with more than about 35 depending on weight of 3 people aboard. Gasoline is 6 pounds per gallon. 15 gallons would be plenty to get to Concord and back with sightseeing thrown in. I'm no expert, just been reading aviation magazines since childhood and know how to search for specifications on Google.
Musical's interpretation of the plane flipping over seems correct, and not a stall/spin scenario like I mentioned. In any kind of soft field landing you try to keep pressure off of the front wheel and on the main gear, but I'm guessing the front wheel dug in and over they went.
Kudos to the pilot for a relatively safe landing.
Are they ever going to clean up that thing? It has been sitting in the baylands for more than 2 weeks now. Is it leaking anything?
Gotta say it's discouraging reading most of these posts on here about the speculation of what actually happened that evening. To those pilots (or anyone!) who actually applied logic to what happened and can see that the outcome is actually quite fortunate, thank you. Identities of the aircraft occupants don't matter, but know that the PIC of this aircraft (me) is a Commercial ASEL/AMEL rated pilot. You train for these occurances at 3000', but when it happens at 700', things are different. The aircraft did not run out of fuel, the aircraft did not stall or spin. The reason the marsh was selected as the landing surface was because there were pedestrians on the levy roads. In about 20 seconds from when the engine failed, we were upside down on the ground. 20 seconds, so you know, is just enough time to acknowledge the engine failed, troubleshoot to the best of your ability from memory, find a decent landing site, and then try to control the aircraft to the ground. Speaking of the landing site, 100 feet shorter we would've been upside down in the water, 100 feet longer we would've been into the side of a rock walled levy; where the plane came to rest was a combination of skill, but mostly luck (I'm not too big to admit that).
The only thing wrong that happened that day was a mechanical failure of the engine. And furthermore, I'm not even going to begin to try to place blame on the mechanics. They do an outstanding job of maintaining all of the aircraft they service. People, its an engine with moving parts...things go wrong every now and again. Even after this, I will still profess to the safety of airplanes over automobiles.
The aircraft is now out of the marsh, the reason it was there for so long was because the helicopters that we needed to get it out of there were fighting fires. You can't exactly lift an airplane out of a marsh with a R-22... It is in a secure location where the FAA and the NTSB will take their sweet time figuring out what went wrong.
I'm still a pilot, the FAA did not revoke my license, because truth be told, the fact that it ended as well it did was due in part to what I did to get it there. I have had many conversations with representatives from the FAA and the NTSB since then, and both of these agencies find no fault in my piloting skills. This is a good indication of the fact that all pilots, at all levels of certification, have to demonstrate high levels of competency and proficiency when piloting their aircraft.
So, I don't say this to start argument, I know this thread has been dead for quite some time. Before this happened to me, I speculated as to what happened when I read about things like this, but not anymore. The fact of the matter is, you weren't there, let the fed's do their job, let them make the determination.
If I can figure out a way to filter those who are legitimate in their interest of what happened, and who will approach this with an open mind rather than try to slander GA or my reputation, I would be happy to explain step-by-step what happened that day.
Otherwise...I'm sure the fun has only just begun for everyone else.
I am a pilot flying frequently from Palo Alto.
People, there are no homes directly under planes' flight path, ok?
Normally, approaching/departing planes fly over bay water most of the time. Exclusions are very rare and uncommon. Accidents like Tesla's are made by gross misjudgements of pilots and are not as frequent as they may be presented.
The ammount of uniformed conversation on this comment board is abysmal. I'm not here to debate for or against the airport, that needs to be left to an INFORMED populous. However for those reading this comment thread that don't really have time to research each comment/fact, they need to be aware of two things. First, most of the arguments on this thread in favor of the airport, outside of the philosophical topics, are mostly accurate. I stress mostly accurate. Secondly, most of the arguments on this thread against the airport, outside of the philosophical topics, are wrong, skewed wrong or flat out wrong. Seriously people don't make a comment about fact or implied fact unless you know what the heck you're talking about. For the general public you don't need to listen to me, but please do not listen to the biased and uniformed positions on this comment thread. Thank you.
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