Pilot in fatal plane crash was on charitable mission | September 7, 2018 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - September 7, 2018

Pilot in fatal plane crash was on charitable mission

Two passengers in Baylands crash sent to Stanford Health Care

by Sue Dremann and Weekly staff

A small plane on a mission of mercy crashed into the Palo Alto Baylands Tuesday morning, killing the pilot and injuring two passengers, who were taken by ambulance to Stanford Health Care.

Pilot W. John Spencer, 66, was a Placerville resident who was a volunteer for Angel Flight West, a nonprofit that provides free transportation to patients and their families throughout the western portion of the United States. He died of multiple injuries, the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner's Office said on Thursday.

Angel Flight West Executive Director Josh Olson confirmed on Wednesday morning that Spencer was flying the aircraft.

"Angel Flight West is devastated and deeply saddened to share that we lost one of our volunteer pilot Angels yesterday," Olson said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of everyone on board."

Olson said the nonprofit has donated 75,000 flights to passengers in need since its founding 35 years ago.

"This is the first accident occurring with an Angel Flight West passenger on board," he added.

Both passengers were in stable condition and hospitalized, Stanford Health Care spokeswoman Lisa Kim said on Tuesday.

Anthony Dellamaria, a Redding resident, confirmed on Tuesday that his wife, Nancy Dellamaria, 49, and stepdaughter, Chloe King, 16, were on the aircraft. They were flying to Palo Alto so that Chloe could have surgery at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, he said.

"Nancy has broken ribs and a fractured neck. I haven't been able to talk to her yet. Chloe is wearing a cervical collar and is under observation," he said from his home.

His wife's mother flew in Tuesday. She had planned to arrive for Chloe's scheduled surgery, he said.

"It's just sad," he added of Spencer's death.

Spencer had aborted an initial landing at the airport and was attempting to regain altitude around 11 a.m. when the crash into the marshland occurred, according to the Palo Alto Airport air-traffic control recording.

Minutes earlier, the tower operator and Spencer discussed landing the Mooney M20J aircraft. Spencer was coming in on a flight path near the Dumbarton Bridge. The tower operator cleared the Mooney for landing. Less than a minute later, Spencer said he was having trouble locating the field. The operator said Spencer would see it in the 11 o'clock position in about 2 1/2 miles.

About 40 seconds later, after trying to land the plane, Spencer said, "I'm going to have to abort this and go around."

The operator replied: "Make left. Close traffic. Do you need any assistance?"

"Negative," Spencer said calmly. "I just came in too fast."

Less than 50 seconds later, the operator issued an announcement: "Attention all aircraft. Due to a mishap we'll be shutting down pattern work and limiting operations in the vicinity."

Chris Ray, a fueler with Rossi Aircraft, which operates out of the municipal airport, said he saw the white plane approach the airstrip and bounce once on the tarmac before attempting a "go-around" maneuver. It looked to be going too low and slow to take off, however, and may have stalled, he told the Weekly.

Ray didn't see the crash, but he heard it and immediately went out in a truck with others to try to help. On the way, they picked up a nurse who had tried to wade out to the plane to render aid. She was unable to reach the aircraft because the mud was too thick, he said.

Upon arriving at the plane, which was in the Baylands northwest of the Palo Alto Duck Pond, they found Chloe in the back seat and Nancy Dellamaria injured in the front seat, he said. Spencer, who was in the mangled cockpit, was dead, he was told.

Emergency responders used a 24-foot extension ladder as a bridge to gain access to the plane.

One passenger was able to walk to the ambulance and the other was placed on a gurney, Palo Alto Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Geo Blackshire said.

The plane was coming in from Redding, Blackshire confirmed.

Spencer, the registered owner of the plane, had volunteered as a pilot for Angel Flight West since 2014. He had served more than 75 families with 125 flights to help them receive the care they needed.

The nonprofit named him No. 2 Pilot of the Year in southern California in 2015 for flying 47 missions. (Rankings were based on the number of missions flown.) He was named Pilot of the Year again in 2016 for flying 32 missions as wingman.

Everyone associated with the nonprofit was trying to get over the shock of the incident, Olson said Tuesday.

Carin Powers, an Angel Flight volunteer who had been waiting to pick up King and Dellamaria in her car, said they didn't have a scheduled time of arrival, which was a bit unusual.

"It was a last-minute signup to pick them up. I called the pilot and the mother and asked them to let me know when they would be coming in. I never heard from them until about 15 minutes before they landed. Nancy texted that they were about to land at the airport in 15 to 20 minutes. She told me not to worry. They would be happy to wait at the airport," Powers said by phone on Tuesday evening.

Powers said she texted back that she couldn't arrive at the airport until about 11:45 a.m.

"I didn't hear back. I tried to call her and I couldn't reach her. I just decided to go there. Just when I got there, I saw the fire engines and the news trucks, and I knew something had happened," she said.

Powers said she ran into another Angel Flight pilot, Orhan Baser, who confirmed the plane's tail number, and she then knew the incident involved the mother and daughter she had come to meet. She said she did not know the pilot.

"I've been doing this for a little over a year. The pilots are so awesome. It's so sad. It's a wonderful organization in all that they do," she said.

Powers added that she knows many people don't like the Palo Alto Airport and that its existence has been controversial. (In the past, some residents have called for the airport's closure, claiming it is hazardous, creates noise and serves an elite few.)

"But that airport is extremely vital for these patients," she said.

Baser had been in the air when the crash occurred below. The winds had shifted at the time of the incident, he said, but he didn't know if that played a role in the crash.

An average of 525 planes take off, land or execute other flight operations at the airport per day, according to AirNav.com, based on FAA information for the 12 months ending May 22, 2018.

On Tuesday, nine departures and 17 arrivals had taken place prior to the crash.

Andrew Swanson, Palo Alto Municipal Airport manager, said Tuesday evening that he and Operations Manager James Wadleigh immediately went to the scene and had been there all day. The city will work closely with National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) staff, who will lead the investigation, he said.

"It's just a tragic accident. The investigation is a lengthy process. (NTSB) will tear the engine down to try to figure out what went wrong. They don't speculate, although it's human nature to do so," he said.

Out of concern that plane fuel may spill into the slough, city of Palo Alto staff is consulting with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife as well as other federal agencies prior to removing the plane from the slough, said Daren Anderson, the city's division manager for Open Space, Parks, and Golf. The work is legally required to be the least environmentally disruptive, he said.

Two engine companies, two ambulances and the fire department's battalion chief responded to the scene on Tuesday morning.

Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at sdremann@paweekly.com.

Comments

1 person likes this
Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2018 at 11:30 am

So us it in the duck pond, or not? It sounds like not.


34 people like this
Posted by Mark Dinan
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 11:56 am

Mark Dinan is a registered user.

My condolences to the victims and their families in this crash. That being said, this is the third crash in the 9 years I have lived near the airport. One killed 4 people and crashed into the power lines near Weeks St in East Palo Alto. The other crash ended up in the Bay. It is very concerning to have so many crashes in such a short time frame given the relatively low volume of the flights there. [Portion removed.]


66 people like this
Posted by Pro Pilot
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 12:04 pm

[Portion removed.] Low volume of flights there? Look up the numbers. Palo Alto is an extremely busy GA airport. Don't even try to start with the "we should close it" routine. Yes, it's very tragic. [Portion removed.]


24 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 4, 2018 at 12:11 pm

Three crashes in nine years is unacceptable for any airport. Do you really want to be the one opposing that notion?

I'm not suggesting any specif remedy, but certainly some collaboration around ideas and possible remedies is in high order.


5 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 12:12 pm

Sounds like there should be a new lighting system implemented at the small airport... there are too many frequent crashes to ignore.


28 people like this
Posted by Mark Dinan
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 12:14 pm

Mark Dinan is a registered user.

Pro Pilot - I see the airport out the window of my home office every day and am very aware of how often flights take off. There are often long stretches of time during the day without flights. It is used by hobbyists and people learning how to fly, with the occasional commercial charter flight in a larger aircraft. Palo Alto Airport has an atrocious safety record for a relatively low volume of flights.


42 people like this
Posted by Pro Pilot
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 12:15 pm

Sally. Any crash is one too many. However, this has nothing to do with the airport itself. Do you know WHY the plane crashed? I do. It has nothing to do with airport procedures, layout, location, traffic, etc.

[Portion removed.]


30 people like this
Posted by Pro Pilot
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 12:21 pm

Relatively low volume to what, Mark? SFO?

I know exactly how the airport is used. I trained there and subsequently it was the hub of my business aircraft. For a GA airport, it is a very, very busy airport.

Regardless, this crash has nothing to do with the airport itself.


58 people like this
Posted by Cirrus Pilot
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 12:24 pm

I fly out of KPAO AT LEAST 60 times a year. To say this airport has a low volume of flights and has an atrocious safety record is one of the [portion removed] things i have every heard. FAA publishes average flights in and out, this is the info for this airport: period ending in May 2018
Aircraft operations: avg 525/day
60% local general aviation
40% transient general aviation
<1% air taxi

525 flights a day. Thats 191,000 flights a year. That is NO small number. Thats an average of almost 2 million flights going in and out of that airport in your quoted statement. 3 flights out of 2 million ended unsuccessfully isnt a bad number. Not at all. 3 out of 2 million.


26 people like this
Posted by Pro Pilot
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 12:28 pm

Concerned - a new lighting system? Not sure how that'll help, especially, in this case, but sure. Ok.

What kind of lighting do you suggest? ALSF? MALSR? MALSF?

If you're going to suggest something, be constructive an knowledgable.


5 people like this
Posted by Yall
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 4, 2018 at 12:37 pm

[Post removed.]


26 people like this
Posted by beth Riley
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2018 at 12:37 pm

is it possibe to offer your experience and wisdom around the airport use without blaming ashaming and judging each other? "the dumbest thing..." what is the point of that?!!

The goal here is for accuracy not competing over who is right or wrong/smart or dumb. Please use your humaneness in reflecting on this situation for the benefit of all.

Condolences to the pilot's family.

thanks.


10 people like this
Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2018 at 12:39 pm

Is there any environmental damage?


31 people like this
Posted by Pro Pilot
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 12:48 pm

Beth-

Cirrus Pilot rightly called out Mark for series of inaccurate statements with presumably a hidden agenda. Then someone else says lighting is the answer.. for a daytime crash in VFR conditions.

It's the uninformed reactions that call for some education. And yes. If something is a dumb statement, it deserves to be called out. [Portion removed.]

The FACT is that there isn't any wisdom to offer for the airport or airport operations in this case. It's a sad event, but unfortunately one that leads folks to such extremes as "we should close the airport" and "we should ban all small planes"

It's frustrating on many levels. And folks that think they are "helping" only make it worse.


29 people like this
Posted by Cirrus Pilot
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 12:50 pm

Beth, his statement was just made up information. Sure i could have said it more nicely, but promoting ignorance is what is wrong with this country. Spreading fake/made up information sets me off. It is all public information, not anecdotal bs. This is a safe airport, and a very busy airport.


1 person likes this
Posted by Theresa
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 4, 2018 at 12:55 pm

Was the PAPI operational at the time of the crash? The plane should have been at least 200 feet AGL until crossing the threshold.


3 people like this
Posted by Donald
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2018 at 12:55 pm

[Post removed.]


33 people like this
Posted by Mark
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 4, 2018 at 12:55 pm

This a wonderful asset to our community whether we fly or not. Don’t fly? Neither did I. At 60 I took an introduction to flying there. Loved it. Exciting. Well run airport. I flew about q8 hours and decided not to fly. Don’t fly? Try it. Perhaps you will also be able then to understand what an amazing liberty this is in a town that is rapidly becoming a town where the only thing left to do will be go to work every day and when you make enough money not to work, you have to move because there will be no place around locally to get your car fixed anymore, few stores locally, and overall a highly competitive, traffic congested, toxic place to live. Love a little. Embrace other people’s hobbies.


12 people like this
Posted by andybe
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 12:56 pm

andybe is a registered user.

2nd busiest airport in the region behind SFO based on number of operations per active runway. Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2018 at 1:03 pm

In case you don’t understand the language pilot missed the airport by WAY more than 40 feet. Looks like it’s just behind the Duck Pond. That would be more like a quarter mile.


9 people like this
Posted by Josef Frisch
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2018 at 1:13 pm

My condolences to the family of the pilot.

Whenever there is an aircraft crash, there is a tendency to try to figure out what happened before there is enough information to do so. The NTSB does a very good job, but it takes time for them to do their work.

I fly out of PAO regularly and I'm not aware of any airport related issues that would have contributed to this crash.


15 people like this
Posted by Mooney 231T
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 4, 2018 at 1:22 pm

Too many single-engine VFR ratings being issued. Everyone thinks they can fly an airplane...most can't even drive a car proficiently.

Instrument ratings should be a prerequisite before piloting any airplane.

ATPs & military-trained pilots are the only ones I'll go up in the air with. The others (with the possible exception of commercial multi-engine instrument rated) are just rank amateurs.

These kinds of air-related accidents happen far too frequently.

Keep the 'Snoopy's' out of the air. We'll all feel safer.


5 people like this
Posted by Roger
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 4, 2018 at 1:25 pm

Dear concerned.
The crash was at 11am ,what do lights have to do with it.


27 people like this
Posted by Roger
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 4, 2018 at 1:35 pm

I get it everyone is afraid a plane will crash into their home, you live next to an airport,get used to it.
We don’t see calls to close 101 or 280 every time there is a crash.
Three crashes in nine years, probably been more than that on any street in the country.
I’m not hearing calls to close 101.
Show your compassion people a man died probably while trying valiantly to save the lives of his passengers and your homes.


18 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 1:35 pm

I think it's time to consider closing the PA airport. A few years ago, a real tragedy was narrowly avoided when a PAO plane crashed into an EPA daycare center. There are just too many people living below the flight paths in and out of this airport for it to continue to operate - however safe it is or not according to the official statistics. Are we going to wait until one of these planes drops out of the sky and kills some people on the ground before we act? The area is too densely populated to have a busy general aviation airport in its midst. As always seems to be the case, poor and marginalized folks - this time in East Palo Alto - bear most of the risk.


14 people like this
Posted by Pro Pilot
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 1:36 pm

Mooney 231T (which is actually a Piper tail number, but whatever, I guess it makes you look more official)

> Instrument ratings should be a prerequisite before piloting any airplane.

Um, how does one get an instrument rating *before* piloting a plane?

Not really sure of the point [portion removed.] How does any of that change what happened here?


8 people like this
Posted by Audubon Society Member
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 4, 2018 at 1:42 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Pro Pilot
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 1:42 pm

[Post removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by Mooney 231T
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 4, 2018 at 1:50 pm

>>> Mooney 231T (which is actually a Piper tail number, but whatever, I guess it makes you look more official).

Your sarcasm aside, I own a Mooney 231 Turbo...thus the moniker. No Piper aircraft was involved Captain 'Pro Pilot'.

>>>Um, how does one get an instrument rating *before* piloting a plane?

It should be a basic requirement prior to issuing the lowest of licenses.

VFR is BS in congested airspace.

OK for barnstorming in a Richard Bach novel.


13 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 1:51 pm

[Post removed.]


17 people like this
Posted by Tired
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 4, 2018 at 1:51 pm

Mary, if you're going to worry about planes falling out of the sky then you should really concentrate on the flights landing at SFO. There are at least 60 jets per day that go almost directly over my house at altitudes near or below 5000 feet. The other day one big jet was so low I could practically see the windows on the plane. And when planes aren't landing at SFO, SJC flights go over my house at altitudes of below 3000 feet. Statistically, these jets are a bigger threat than the small planes out of KPAO.


Like this comment
Posted by Pro Pilot
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 1:56 pm

[Portion removed.]

I'm with you on the "more training" part. But I'm still not seeing how one can be instrument rated before getting PP. Unless you're saying merge IFR training in with PP training, which I'd be in favor of. Or maybe a IFR-light or something. There is not enough simulated or actual instrument training in PP. But that's for another time and place.


14 people like this
Posted by Pro Pilot
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 2:04 pm

[Portion removed.]

Rich plane owners? Please, you can buy a plane for less than one of the many, many Tesla Xs we see around Palo Alto. Many people rent, not buy. Flying can be expensive. But it doesn't have to be. So stop painting it as a way that rich people keep down poor people. [Portion removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Fernando
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 2:06 pm

@ Pro Pilot-

It kind of sounds like you need a hug.

Maybe it's a good thing that you're a 'Pro Pilot'!
The six-pack instrument panel wouldn't cannot make a
comment that will set you off!


6 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 4, 2018 at 2:08 pm

Sea Reddy is a registered user.

So sorry to hear.


1 person likes this
Posted by Mark Dinan
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 2:09 pm

Mark Dinan is a registered user.

If anyone wants to check on the flight activity of the Palo Alto Airport, here is a link to the incoming and outgoing flights.

Web Link

I'm not sure how you get to 525 flights a day based on a typical volume of flights coming and going from KPAO. I literally am looking at the landing strip all day from my office and do not see anywhere near 200+ planes landing or taking off from the airport. There is probably one plane every 5-10 minutes during busy times, and less for long stretches during the middle of the day when hobby pilots are working.


8 people like this
Posted by Pro Pilot
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 2:16 pm

Fernando, I don't need a hug. I just need people to be logical and reasonable and educated.

[Portion removed.]


22 people like this
Posted by Andrew
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2018 at 2:20 pm

Why on earth does everyone assume GA is just for hobby? I use my plane for business. Being able to get in and out quick is what makes my company more successful than my competition. I started my business 12 years ago, struggled until I got my pilots license 4 years ago. Now I have been able to secure more clients and troubleshoot problems quicker all thanks to this “hobby” without GA I’d still be barely making ends meet. In just 4 years time I’ve went from $3 million in gross sales to $30 million. Trained and rented a Cessna, within a year bought an SR22T, flying 400 hours a year not as a professional pilot, have just upgraded to a meridian.


5 people like this
Posted by Pro Pilot
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 2:21 pm

Mark Dinan-

Flight Aware is a great app. I use it frequently.

I'm sure you're aware (pun totally intended) that it doesn't show ALL traffic going into / out of the airport, right?


15 people like this
Posted by Proer Pilot
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 4, 2018 at 2:24 pm

the airport should be shut down, not that the plane crash had anything to do with the airport, but for the sake of not having annoying propeller noise all day long would be nice.


Like this comment
Posted by Pro Pilot
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 2:28 pm

[Post removed.]


14 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2018 at 2:30 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

Yikes, 3.5 hours after the crash and the usual Palo Alto "experts" are all over this.


Like this comment
Posted by Pro Pilot
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 2:31 pm

[Post removed.]


16 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2018 at 2:33 pm

I have lived here quite a while and during that time I have known one person who ran a business flying out of Palo Alto airport and another who worked for another business flying out of the airport. What people don't seem to understand is that many of the planes are flying as part of business enterprises that are just as important as any other business enterprise. Some of the planes are flying taxis, or taking people to other small airports which can't be done on commercial flights without a couple of changes and/or long drives.

It is an important business for Palo Alto and serves the needs of many other businesses in the Peninsula.


13 people like this
Posted by Cirrus Pilot
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 2:34 pm

Mark. Those numbers are published straight from the FAA. Flight aware and your “anecdotal experience” don’t qualify for a factual discussion


Like this comment
Posted by Pro Pilot
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 2:40 pm

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by TBM owner and frequent visitor
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2018 at 2:44 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


27 people like this
Posted by Close the Bike Lanes
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Sep 4, 2018 at 2:50 pm

So...if we are to close the Palo Alto Airport for 2 crashes in 9 years.

Then, by the same line of reasoning, we should close all the bike lanes in Palo Alto because there have been hundreds of bike accidents over the past 9 years.

Just using Palo Alto On Line poster logic here folks.


16 people like this
Posted by Grumman Pilot
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Sep 4, 2018 at 2:52 pm

If people are so worried about a plane falling on their house or in the vicinity of an airport, maybe they should not have bought a house there.
Most airports were there long before the houses were. Buyer beware........


Like this comment
Posted by Pro Pilot
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 2:54 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Pro Pilot
a resident of Old Palo Alto

on Sep 4, 2018 at 3:04 pm


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Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Barron Park

on Sep 4, 2018 at 3:18 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Like this comment
Posted by Walter Underwood
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Sep 4, 2018 at 3:20 pm

Walter Underwood is a registered user.

According to this article, engine management for the 231 turbo engine requires a lot of attention. It is pretty easy to get it wrong. A later turbo engine (the 252) used by Mooney is much easier to operate.

"Mooney didn’t get the M20K’s turbocharging system right on the first try and the airplane developed a reputation as a maintenance hog. [...] The revised powerplant installation in the 252 made an enormous difference and makes the 252 a more desirable airplane. Because the 231 has a fixed wastegate, the pilot must constantly monitor manifold pressure and fiddle with the throttle to keep it within limits. Bootstrapping and overboosting are constant worries."

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 4, 2018 at 3:26 pm

ChrisC is a registered user.

@MArk Dinan I live the link you shared.


7 people like this
Posted by Mike Alexander
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Sep 4, 2018 at 3:33 pm

How tragic and terrifying. Something had to have been horribly wrong. The plane came to rest next to the trail that goes around the back of the duck pond, 750 feet from the start of runway 31 and nearly 500 feet off the standard approach path. I wonder if the pilot aligned to something other than the runway.
It would be better if people waited until the facts are known before arguing what this crash signifies.


1 person likes this
Posted by Aynon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2018 at 3:36 pm

This is really emotional for me... as a plane spotter,future pilot, random 13yr and avgeek. Will be praying for friends and family.. Um about the light though... it’s not even close to being the problem... the plane stalled, which basically means that the pilot tried to pull up on the yoke but the plane was too slow so he had ZERO control over the plane, therefore it did crash. So lights had nothing to do with this situation.


23 people like this
Posted by Sheri
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2018 at 3:48 pm

Sheri is a registered user.

To get back to the real story, my condolences to the family of the pilot who was trying to do a good deed and those injured he was trying to help. I saw all the police and fire vehicles racing down Embarcadero and assumed an accident on 101. This is very sad, but let's also remember that the airport is part of our local disaster response efforts.


Like this comment
Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2018 at 4:13 pm

At this juncture, the info released makes it sound like pilot error:

Web Link

How very sad.


Like this comment
Posted by Illuminato
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2018 at 4:16 pm

I got my VFR pilot license at Palo Alto airport, but I didn't really learn to fly until I learned aerobatics. I learned that aerobatics isn't so much about loops and rolls as about stalls and spins. What often happens is that someone gets into a spin for the first time and they don't know why the plane is rolling left while they have the controls all the way to the right. When this happens at low altitude, it often results in a nose-down crash and a destroyed front section of the airplane.


I'd bet that the pilot may have had an IFR rating, but certainly did not have an acro card. Like most "pilots", they had probably never done a spin recovery before.


We hear a lot about privilege and entitlement these days, but it's all BS that someone made up.


8 people like this
Posted by One-Six Right
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2018 at 4:24 pm

To all whom suggest the airport be closed...

If you are seriously interested in this issue, please take the time to understand your opponents. There is a very well done documentary on the subject. It is called "One Six Right". It is a movie about one of the busiest (if not the busiest) general aviation airport in the United States.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 4, 2018 at 4:30 pm

A point of clarification for those trying to imagine the flight path, this morning's traffic pattern was reversed from normal. Runway 13 (southeastward) rather than 31 (northwestward).


4 people like this
Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 4, 2018 at 4:52 pm

"The pilot had aborted an initial landing at the airport and was attempting to regain altitude when the plane banked left and dove into a nearby slough "

Classic full power stall. Nasty. Impossible to recover at low altitude. Another Mooney 20 crashed into a med center parking lot by the Watsonville airport several years ago, same reason.


7 people like this
Posted by The Unfriendly Skies
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2018 at 5:21 pm

> the info released makes it sound like pilot error:

7-8 times out of ten it usually is. Can't blame the airplane.

Bad judgement & poor flying skills (e.g. JFK Jr., John Denver, Thurman Munson et al).

Not just limited to rank amateurs...remember the JAL pilot who reversed engines on approach to SFO & landed in the marsh? It was later learned that he was suffering mental issues.


10 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 4, 2018 at 5:45 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

For armchair pilots and pros; let us get into facts. This is a tragedy. Any person killed in a GA is something to be a bitter learning experience. Said to me in both SCUBA and GROUND SCHOOL: Nature will do it's best to KILL YOU if you do not follow it's rules. I took Ground School to learn the " rules of the Road " when flying my ultralight. I did NOT have to take ANY instruction, as you needed NO license to fly one. I am of the manual types. no mod cons including NO GPS. We had to get the sectional map of the SFBA. I'm still here. That means I took my training seriously.

Having said that, HOW MANNY AIRPORTS ARE IN THE SFBA AND SILICON VALLEY????

Theoretically, ALL airports are GA airports; It is wiser not to use them as GA airports Wing vortex problems and similar " heavy " take off issues.

The SFBA was bad 4 years ago. It is far worse today. When I was a kid in East Palo Alto we lived on Garden Street. I used to watch aircraft taking off at PAO and wanted to learn to fly. the " dike " near this plane crash was where I watched. with crackling power lines above me. I read the NTSB report on the Tesla Engineers crash that parts landed inour former back yard: the pilot was taking the same meds I take. The med causes vertigo lapses for 1 to 2 seconds, at a critical issue, you can lapse into this vertigo at any movement, hence the crash into the high tension power lines.

Go Arounds mean LIFT+THRUST> WEUGHT+DRAG in it's purest form. ANY airframe, from an ultralight to the Scairbus 380 needs to follow this simple rule, critical to remain flying. This pilot appears to have violated that simple rule. you need height before making a turn BECAUS YOU LOSE LIFT WHEN YOU MAKE A TURN; even 500 feet AGL is not enough to recover from a turn. Mooneys are great airframes but they are not made for aerobatics, like Citabria airframes. Straight power and lift to make a proper go around. GA do not have the luxury of altering the wing shape like the " heavies " can. You just have flaps sometimes. You ay forget these lessons, Nature will not. You have an example of the lesson right here: NATURE WILL ALWAYS TRY TO KILL YOU IF YOU FORGET IT'S LESSONS. These lessons apply to ultralight to Scairbus 380's. ( who wants to fly a hotel in th sky? )

A long and detailed post.Most of it are facts anyone can find on the Internet. SJC had boyh GA and the " heavies " when I did Ground School. The debate on " too many airports " was raging 40 years ago. The sectional map proves it. In WI, most " airports + are just mowed grassy feld with UNICOM frequencies to turn on the marker lights. Nice for Piper Cubs and ultralights with no FBOs to get gas from.

Another problem: DRONES. I'll leave that for another day. I hope all is well for the passengers in this dreadful accident. Peace for the pilot.


36 people like this
Posted by Rank Amateur Pilot
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 4, 2018 at 8:10 pm

“Apparently there are some posters here who think their hobby is so important that it merits everyday endangerment of people on the ground - most of whom can't even imagine affording such an extravagant diversion. How much risk should people in East Palo Alto take so that rich plane owners can indulge themselves for their own amusement? We hear a lot about privilege and entitlement nowadays -- but it's rare to see such open full throated defense of it as we see here.” -Mary

Mary,

The flight today was an “Angel Flight” carrying a patient to Lucille Packard for treatment. Angel flight has flown 4,256 missions last year carrying patients for hospital treatment at the volunteer pilot’s expense totaling $6.6 Million in costs to the pilots who you dismiss as, “indulging their own amusement.” [Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by JR McDugan
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 4, 2018 at 8:20 pm

JR McDugan is a registered user.

My condolences to the victims and their families in this crash. What is clear to anyone paying attention is that PAO is unsafe and in the worst possible location for an airport. 365 days out of the year that location is windy, sometimes it's hard to even stand up outside. It could be completely calm downtown, meanwhile the gusts are 30 MPH+ at the Baylands and PAO.

Time to shut it down, the loss of life is enough.


19 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 4, 2018 at 9:02 pm

"There's too much wind at the airport"... LOL


20 people like this
Posted by PAO Pilot
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2018 at 9:07 pm

I fly in and out of PAO multiple times a week and it IS a hard airport to work out of, no question. The SFO Bravo, SJC Charlie, OAK Charlie, and the Deltas on either side of the runway combined with a stiff crosswind and lots of students make the airport environment tough.

However, a thing being hard and a thing being unsafe are totally different. The controllers at PAO, as evidenced in the tapes, are all amazingly professional and talented (and honestly keeping these people on local control of a VFR airport is a huge win for us and a huge loss for every other airport ever). The sheer volume of flights in and out everyday is massive and the number of incidents is incredibly limited.

At the end of the day, it sounds like this pilot (who by the accounts given, was a lovely human being doing a charitable thing) got behind the airplane and didn't have enough airspeed or altitude to allow him to catch-up. That's a mistake that could have happened as easily at PAO as it could at any airport anywhere.


21 people like this
Posted by Newton J. Quinley
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 4, 2018 at 9:17 pm

"Apparently there are some posters here who think their hobby is so important that it merits everyday endangerment of people on the ground - most of whom can't even imagine affording such an extravagant diversion. How much risk should people in East Palo Alto take so that rich plane owners can indulge themselves for their own amusement? We hear a lot about privilege and entitlement nowadays -- but it's rare to see such open full throated defense of it as we see here."

People with this attitude are reminded that the airport was there long before most of the real estate in Palo Alto and its environs was developed. There was no risk when nobody lived under the flight paths, and there would be none how if that land had remained open. By choosing to build and live on that land, people like this poster implicitly accepted the risks associated with proximity to general aviation activities. The matter is closed.


3 people like this
Posted by aresident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2018 at 9:50 pm


My condolences, this is sad to hear about.

Newton Quigley, reisdent of Atherton,

Belittling questions about the risks to people on the ground with the mantra "airport was here first, matter is closed" doesn't help people feel safer.

As a resident of the City that owns the airport, I expect less arrogant answers.


18 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 4, 2018 at 10:43 pm

Aresident,

I think it's arrogant to suggest that we should shut down a thriving, well-run, and important airport because it's had THREE accidents in 9 years. By that logic we should literally cease all forms of transportation.

I think it's insulting to insinuate that local pilots are all rich people and hobbyists, as other posters have done here.

Theres a common pattern to all the naysayers and "stop everything" posters around town. I think you'd have a better chance of convincing people to your cause if you used logic and facts.


9 people like this
Posted by M
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 4, 2018 at 11:21 pm

Unfriendly Skies wrote:

“Not just limited to rank amateurs...remember the JAL pilot who reversed engines on approach to SFO & landed in the marsh? It was later learned that he was suffering mental issues.”

Those aren’t the facts I recall from
that JAL SFO DC 8 accident.

So I looked it up. No pilot mental health issues. No “engine reversing”. It was a botched coupled approach where the autopilot controls the plane during an ILS (Instrument Landing System) approach. The pilot wasn’t on the glide slope when he switched the autopilot to the coupled approach mode. It was foggy and he saw the water too late to pull up
and go around.

Web Link

I like aviation. I like having a public airport in Palo Alto. This tragic Mooney crash appears to be a departure stall which, if true, has nothing to do with the airport. It’s pilot error. Inadequate airspeed.

Flying has risks.. So does driving. The solution, in my opinion, isn’t shutting down runways and roadways.

And no, I’m not a pilot or aircraft owner.









2 people like this
Posted by aresident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2018 at 11:29 pm

John,

You may have a point but the comment "airport is here first, matter closed" doesn't answer legitimate questions about safety of people when an airport is close by.

As you may be aware the increase in car traffic is generating road safety concerns, but nobody says, roads were her first, matter closed.


4 people like this
Posted by Concerned citizen
a resident of Los Altos
on Sep 5, 2018 at 12:19 am

I understand people get scared when they hear a plane crash in their town . But one of the reasons why t we need these small airports Is that we need pilots, We currently have a crisis in the pilot industry. We need more pilots and the only way that we can replenish the outgoing commercial pilots is to train new pilots and where do these new pilots practice ? That’s right they all start n small airports within towns or cities .If we shut down every airport that has a crash there is going to be even more pilot shortage .

Another thing I wanted to add is that it looks to me that the pilot (bless his soul) seemed disoriented in at least the last 2 1/2 miles prior to landing he probably landed high and with a 90° crosswind wasn’t able to manage and get ahead of the plane . Also , according to FAA records this plane was transferred to the owner only in April so I’m assuming that the pilot was not as familiar with the airplane as he should be . He was unfamiliar with the airport . He should have asked for vectors . I mean who’s ask “ can you tell me when or if I’m turning final ? “ He should have not even attempted to land and did an immediate go around . A lot of factors could affect this , he might have been tired , hungry according to Airnav he was flying at 1500 or 8 am from Placerville to Redding to Hayward to Pali alto for a 60 year old man that must have been exhausting to fly that long as a sole pilot .


13 people like this
Posted by Rank Amateur Pilot
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 5, 2018 at 3:30 am

“You may have a point but the comment "airport is here first, matter closed" doesn't answer legitimate questions about safety of people when an airport is close by.”

John didn’t say the matter was closed. It was others demanding the airport be closed. If you were asking legitimate questions about safety, the pilots would be first in line to consider them scientifically with you. Safety is literally what the job of pilot is. We study mishaps down to the nuts and bolts. We would explain it to the news crews, but they just want sensationalized photos of fire trucks and wreckage, and make up the details as it suits them. Accident investigators are already examining what happened to learn anything that could have prevented it.

“As you may be aware the increase in car traffic is generating road safety concerns, but nobody says, roads were her first, matter closed.”

They would if you proposed completely closing down the roads as means to achieve “safety.” Go ahead and try it. Tell people you bought a house by the freeway but now you’re worried about even one life lost in a dangerous car crash and demand the freeway (next to you) be removed. After all, freeways shouldn’t put at risk all the people in densely populated areas. You’ll be the talk of the town.


17 people like this
Posted by Rank Amateur Pilot
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 5, 2018 at 3:56 am

“What is clear to anyone paying attention is that PAO is unsafe”

Actually, that’s only “clear” if you pay selective attention. If anything needs to be safer, it’s that the runway should be longer. This crash might then have been mitigated. But Palo Alto isn’t concerned about safety so much as constricting traffic and developing real estate.

“and in the worst possible location for an airport.”

If by worst, you mean best. Sadly, you lack understanding of the matter.

“365 days out of the year that location is windy, sometimes it's hard to even stand up outside.”

Which, with a tiny bit of knowledge, you would know is good for airplanes. (They then need less runway.)

“It could be completely calm downtown, meanwhile the gusts are 30 MPH+ at the Baylands and PAO.”

You’d prefer the airport downtown?


21 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2018 at 5:34 am

Historically speaking, more than 30,000 U.S. citizens die every year in highway accidents. Every two years, that is more fatalities than we experienced in the Vietnam conflict. There are about 2,500 annual pleasure boating fatalities in the United States as well. We lose about 400 to 500 citizens in light aircraft accidents annually. We lose more pedestrians every year than that. We also experience a greater loss of life on what the DOT calls “pedal cycles” than in light aircraft. These figures may be verified from the Department of Transportation and are readily available to the public.

I think it is important to keep all of this in perspective. Any accident, injury and loss of life is tragic but if you are truly interested in Transportation safety and saving lives, you should focus your attention on motor vehicles and driving, not light aircraft and flying.


2 people like this
Posted by Groundling
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 5, 2018 at 6:13 am

PAO is a very busy General Aviation airport. During the day when we go out there, there's almost always a plane in visual range either landing or taking off. That high traffic multiplied by the much higher risk per mile and per hour that small planes have, frequent accidents will happen. Perhaps it is time to make it a much less busy airport, and consider whether the 110 acres would be better used for something else entirely. Even with its heavy air traffic, it moves a miniscule number of people compared to ground transportation.

The runway alignment looks about right for the Embarcaderro Bypass which was to have been built with the Dumbarton Bridge. That would remove most traffic from University and Willow. A reduction in commuter traffic on EPA and Bellehaven surface streets would save lives (emergency response times, accidents, pollution). Whether PAO saves or takes more lives, it may not be positive enough to justify over better uses. Palo Alto might be able to put the proceeds of a sale to good use as well.

"Pilots": Ravenswood School District here predates flying. Your alternative-facts, entitlement, and disrespect are pretty convincing. If this is a typical sample of GA pilots, maybe it's preferable if you don't fly over populations.


8 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 5, 2018 at 6:55 am

mauricio is a registered user.

As a matter of historical fact, the PAO used to be on Stanford land and was moved to its current location in 1924 I believe. There were residential neighborhood close enough to its current location back in 1924 to make it a very bad decision at the time. There is absolutely no need for a GA airport this close to residential neighborhoods. Even setting the air and noise pollution aside for a moment, it represents a perpetual mortal danger to the surrounding neighborhoods. The idiotic mantra "It was here before them" is just that, idiotic, heartless and entitled. The people leaving near it can't afford to uproot their life and move, this unnecessary boondoggle can be. Get rid of it.


12 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2018 at 7:32 am

Posted by Close the Bike Lanes, a resident of Palo Verde School, 15 hours ago

>> So...if we are to close the Palo Alto Airport for 2 crashes in 9 years.

>> Then, by the same line of reasoning, we should close all the bike lanes in Palo Alto because there have been hundreds of bike accidents over the past 9 years.

>> Just using Palo Alto On Line poster logic here folks.

Using the same reasoning, we should ban cars completely. Virtually all (1 or 2 exceptions going downhill on Page Mill) of the fatal bike accidents have involved cars. Plus, all the fatal car accidents over the years. Using the above reasoning, cars obviously should be banned.

Except that some of the people who want to shut down the airport are using safety as an excuse, when really, it is about noise. I'm more sympathetic to the noise issue, and, I don't appreciate people using safety as an excuse. In my life, I've been much more at risk due to "pilot error" of the car pilots I have to share the road with-- including myself. I, for one, will be happier when self-driving cars are the social norm.

Personally, I like having the Palo Alto airport there, even though I've never used it myself.




28 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 5, 2018 at 9:56 am

Wouldn't it be most prudent to hear all of the facts before redesigning airports, airport rules or other such knee-jerk reactionary ideas? This crash might have NOTHING to do with the airport itself. The crash could be the result of malfunction, pilot error or something else.


5 people like this
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 5, 2018 at 10:58 am

Two-thirds of the takeoffs/landings are "touch and goes"--hardly the same as a flight originating or terminating at this airport. Certainly, a "touch and go" occupies the airspace of the landing strip, but it should not be included in the total operations numbers about "flights" originating/terminating at the airport. This data was obtained from Airport management.

It's a shame that this sort of information is not generally made available about this place.


2 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 5, 2018 at 11:04 am

mauricio is a registered user.

The airport should have been closed down decades ago. Actually, it should never have existed in that location to begin with, so the cause of this particular crash is irrelevant to the much larger issue, which is that a GA airport should not be located adjacent to the backyard of residents, especially people of low financial means who have no political voice, regardless of who was there first. You can bet that if it had been located in Atherton or Woodside, it would have been shut down or relocated many decades ago.


5 people like this
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 5, 2018 at 11:07 am

This argument about whether the airport is safe or not should have been conducted before the City took control of the operation. I did a lot of research into the airport, its history and its safety record at one point. The link below is a compilation of the narratives of the FAA Crash Reports that go back many years:

Web Link

As it were, virtually all of the accidents can be seen to be pilot error, which is typical of most general aviation accidents.

It's time to have this conversation about why the City should be operating an airport so close to hundreds of thousands of residences and businesses when it has no control over who uses the facility.


23 people like this
Posted by Leave it open
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 5, 2018 at 11:08 am

No maurucio, the airport should not be shut down. And it is too bad that got are exploiting this tragedy to push for agenda. The airport is safe and we're do not know the facts about this accident. What about the Monterey airport, should that be closed.


8 people like this
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 5, 2018 at 11:12 am

> Except that some of the people who want to shut down the airport are
> using safety as an excuse, when really, it is about noise

Reasons could include: safety, noise, inappropriate use of public funds, total cost of operation exceeds revenue generated, virtually all use of airport by non-residents of Palo Alto.


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Posted by HitTheMoney
a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2018 at 12:43 pm

According to NTSB 2016 report aviation fatalities totaled 412, and of those fatalities 386 were general aviation. A yearly NTSB report on total number of general aviation crashes, fatalities, injuries, and related damage costs would be helpful in assessing the overall impact of this sector of the aviation industry.


4 people like this
Posted by HitTheMoney
a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2018 at 12:48 pm

Not to mention GA's dispersal of lead and other air pollution toxins, to say nothing of it's noise pollution. I saw a recent post by a pilot telling someone in the comments to f*%$ off and die who merely addressed the impact of GA, including a recent skydiving outfit that a couple opened in SoCal. But then what's verbal abuse to the low-altitude noise and air pollution being inflicted 24/7 across our nation since the NextGen program gave the aviation industry the green light to take the gloves off on citizens on the ground?


3 people like this
Posted by HitTheMoney
a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2018 at 1:04 pm

A story, for some citizens on the ground vs. pilots in the air perspective. Here’s what the now deceased Virginia Helicopter Association President Henry Schwartz did in flying solo in his 4-seater helicopter to a meeting and crashing it:

91-year-old resident killed
Fire crews working from day into night to put out the fire
10-unit condo community condemned
9 families displaced and in need of aid
Trauma to survivors, witnesses, family and friends of the resident killed

Source: "Helicopter crash rocks Williamsburg neighborhood" (VA Gazette 7/11/2018):

Web Link#

People are right to be concerned about the GA expansion low over our heads.


6 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2018 at 1:26 pm

Posted by HitTheMoney, a resident of another community

>> A story, for some citizens on the ground vs. pilots in the air perspective.

>> People are right to be concerned about the GA expansion low over our heads.

Just wondering: if someone crashes a car and kills an innocent third party, does that mean that cars therefore should be banned?

Anecdotal evidence is: anecdotal. Let's see some statistics. For example, is it safer to fly 100 miles in a light plane or drive 100 miles? What do the numbers say?


14 people like this
Posted by Jeff
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 5, 2018 at 2:24 pm

I am a Flight Instructor and have been teaching at the PA airport for many years. To be more specific I'm a 141 Trained CFII/MEI with 3,500+ TT, 500+ Multi engine etc.

Palo Alto Airport has an excellent safety record. A couple of fatal accidents in 9 years? Take a look at Bay Area Auto Traffic fatalities at around 400-500 per year.

All of the PA clubs train students to be able to maneuver, communicate and operate within this very complex and busy area. You have to know what you are doing when you are here. If you are unfamiliar then you better do your homework. Good pilots make good plans and have good procedures.

The 500 plus number refers to "operations" which could be a takeoff, a landing, a transition etc. Sometimes during a training session with a student we will do 10 takeoff and landings. In addition to flight training there are many private (Part91) operations and some charters. There are many helicopter operations as well.

Considering how busy it is, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year with very few accidents the conclusion is that KPAO is a very safe airport. Compare it to some other similar sized Class D airports and see how it measures up.

It is a very safe and professional environment


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Posted by HitTheMoney
a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2018 at 4:18 pm

First off, who said banned? The FAA NextGen program mandated by Congress has unleashed 24/7 low-altitude aircraft to the detriment of human health and the environment. Aviation has gone rogue thanks to 2012 federal legislation granted it CATEX of the human environment.

Now, let's look at vehicles vs. general aviation fatalities. FAA 2016 survey of all active GA aircraft total is 211,793. GA fatalities 386. Fatalities represent .182% of active GA aircraft. 268.8 million vehicles registered in 2016 and 37,461 fatalities, so .014% of registered vehicles. That's 13 times more general aviation fatalities.

And moreover, when pilots are buzzing people's rooftops near and far and everything in between of airports, the people on the ground aren't signing up for that risk. There's zero choice in your home and yard, the outdoors, when pilots are buzzing our heads low and nonstop since NextGen. And a road is escapable if you don't want to see, hear, or smell it. Anyone figure out how to escape the sky yet?

This NextGen program is going to go down in history as the crime that it is. And pilots relishing this green light to rogue and hurling verbal abuse at those rightly standing up to it is not surprising. What kind of person does this? You're killing people, straight up, with this incessant noise and air pollution. Your taking risks with our lives that we didn't sign up for. So hurling insults is nothing in comparison. Your talk fits your belligerence and extremism in the skies.


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Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 5, 2018 at 5:31 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

I tried to keep things simple but other issues that do not directly relate to this " incident " that is being related to. Palo Alto used REDLINING, which made other minorities resident under this airport. You had MANY living in those East Palo Alto areas under the paths in that " undesirable " land. I just did not know that as a child. Watching airplanes was fun as a kid, without seeing the possible dangers from doing that. The Tesla Engineers accident and where the pieces landed brought this up. As a kid, I would have been part of that deadly accident, possibly another victim ( again ). Remember that Palo Alto REDLINED so that rich WASP types only got to live in Palo Alto.

On the " too many airports " issue. I REPEAT: THAT WAS AN ISSUE 40 YEARS AGO! IMNSHO, When you just have grassy strips and turn on the runway lights by UNICOM and have no " tower " or even an FBO and carry extra fuel around, you have too many airports in too little space. Maybe everyone needs a change of perspective. Ultralight flying just cannot be done in SFBA airspace. Even with NextGEN GPS control. Too many other problems still exist in our air above us. I guess I have to bring up another DRONE reference. In our past. it was agreed we own our land. Straight down to the core of the Earth and straight above use to reaches of space. Then MINERAL RIGHTS became an issue. Also TOLL WAYS. You just created a road on your land and people paid to use it. That is still the case in New England too today, except the government is the people. It is my right NOT to pay tolls using the Interstate Highway and Defense System 40 years ago. Our government has taken the regulation of the upper areas of the air highways but not the areas below 1500 feet. Except for TCAs and safe liftoff and landing areas. It is extremely hard to build a toll " up there ". Now, that is a different matter. WE THE PEOPLE actually " own " that chunk of airspace above our heads AND COULD CREATE TOLLS FOR ANY AIRFRAME THAT CROSSES OUR AIRSPACE. On landing, airframes are given a bill for passage of " toll roads crossed by that airframe, added along the LANDING FEES THAT ARE ALREADY CHARGED. Like parking tickets, get too many and a surplus SCUD missile flames your behind. Bad for business. Or repeat customers. So, let u talk about the 1500 foot AGL limit. THAT IS OURS TO USE RIGHT NOW. Our FAA & NTSB seem to agree n that to keep the natives quiet. So, I fly a drone in that airspace. It seems our government flies the same drone in other peoples airspace but calls them UAVs. But I digress.. I actually have the right to disable ANY vehicle found in my airspace. I just can say " what vehicle? " to anyone who tries to interrogate me abut the loss of their $10,000 drone. You do not want to lose your drone, just keep it out of my airspace. That CAN happen in unpopulated farm areas very easily.

Modern jet pilots are more computer programmers than pilots. Many have not even flown GA airframes. THEY DO NOT REALLY KNOW HOW TO FLY A PLANE! Many have simulator hours instead of just actual flying time in a real cockpit. I actually studied this problem; two of some recently known incidents killed ereyone on board because someone did not know the airframe was falling into the ocean. Many " miracle " landings were just pilots knowing how to fly the plane. This, while everything in the cockpit were just following a checklst as the airframe impacts into a neighborhood or an ocean.
Here is someone who got behind when flying the actual plane and Nature collected another soul. Maybe things just kept happening all at once that contributed to a stall condition and recovery was impossible, we will never know, we may never know. That can be true of any airframe crash and not limited to a GA crash. In all the cases since 1903, we only make educated guesses and few reasons are known. We have some actual reasons, like DC-10 airframes could no longer could be sold for public transport or the present day turbofan disk failures that kill people right now world wide ( I'll bet that news could bother a commercial captain ) or just pilot error ( in the Tenerife Disaster ). No clearance was given to the KLM captain, while the other airframe was trying to taxi off the runway. Heavy fog complete a horror sight for both crew and all the passegers The approaching lights of the KLM jet trough the fog. For m, that was the last thing they saw. That is why I no longer watch horror movies. One man's impatience killed all those people...
On the whole SFBA airport issue: Will it take a Tenerife issue to deal with the airport crowding issue? That is not just a PAO,SJC or SFO issue. No " get over it " responses from macho pilot arrogance to the ecofreak "stop flying as you are destroying our planet " types.Have I offended the extremists on both sides of the 40 year old debate. Heck,you even have a superior place to fly out of just South of you: Moffet Field, dammit, Just shift all operations at PAO and close it for the wetlands. Abetter built facility for GA operations with plenty of room. The Palo Alto resident can stil play with their toys and only have to drive a couple of miles to do it. A compromise for everyone. Even drone pilots. Condolences to all. To the pilot who just may have got behind while flying his plane, RIP.


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Posted by HitTheMoney
a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2018 at 5:42 pm

Now if we could get the number of hours spent in vehicles vs. in GA aircraft in 2016 the picture of GA fatalities would look even worse.


6 people like this
Posted by JR McDugan
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 5, 2018 at 9:14 pm

JR McDugan is a registered user.

Newton J. Quinley resident of Atherton, you should be aware that the airport is called PAO because it's within Palo Alto city limits and is run by the City of Palo Alto. The airport was created by and for the people of Palo Alto and if you choose to use it as our guest then you should show respect and decency. If the people of Palo Alto choose to shutdown the airport for better use then we will not spend one minute considering the opinion of Atherton residents, as such your opinion that "the matter is closed" has no basis in fact and will not be considered. If you want to dictate policy then I suggest you open an airport in your own city.


5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2018 at 10:18 pm

The conversation gets silly when it comes down to the sentiment that the airport is a Palo Alto resource, for Palo Alto residents. That is nonsense. It may now be run by the City of Palo Alto but it doesn't mean that it is not a Santa Clara or regional resource. We can't honestly expect that every city on the Peninsula is going to run its own airport. We have enough of the island mentality on Peninsula as it is, we have to break down the barriers and start treating all amenities as amenities for the Peninsula regional community.

Otherwise, we may find that Shoreline concerts are not open to others and we should all get our own amphitheater!!!!!!


2 people like this
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 6, 2018 at 11:37 am

> The airport was created by and for the people of Palo Alt0

This is not strictly true. The current airport was operated by Stanford University in the 1920s as a part of the school of aeronautics (or some such). The airstrip was on land next to College Terrace. The pilots were not at all considerate of the residential nature of the College Terrace; by 1927 (or so) the residents were in the process of suing Stanford over the location of the airstrip--seeking its removal.

Folks (probably business people) wanted to see an airport in/around Palo Alto, so the land where the current airstrip was made available to private individuals who ran the airport by the City up until the 1950s when it became clear that the cost of running the airport far exceeded the revenues generated. The owners of the facilities were threatening to close the site for financial reasons. At that time, the County of Santa Clara assumed the responsibility—facilitated by the City of Palo Alto’s renting the land to the County at/about $1-$2 a year for the 102 acres of land.

When the County got to the point that it realized (finally) that the airport was costing more to run than it wanted to pay, the City of Palo Alto was conned into picking up the operations of the airport by a City Council that was not interested in what the public wanted for the use of that land, or for the dollars that would be needed to subsidize the facility.

So—for the most part, the “people of Palo Alto” have had very little to do with this airport.


4 people like this
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 6, 2018 at 11:44 am

Small Plane Crashes

The accident rates of small planes are far worse than most General Aviation pilots seem to admit. That means that claims about “safety” from such people need to be closely scrutinized:

Why Private Planes Are Nearly As Deadly As Cars:
Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 6, 2018 at 12:00 pm

>Palo Alto is a safe airport

Safety, like beauty, is always in the eye of the beholder. From the research into accidents at the Palo Alto airport from 1964-2010, the following accident data can be stated:

Total reported accidents: 149

Number of Fatal Accidents: 7

There are now 8 fatalities recorded at this airport.

Airport safety is a highly contentious topic—since it’s clear that most pilots don’t have much knowledge about the general topic of airport design, or operations and not interested in having this sort of information made a part of the discussion of airport location and funding.

Suggesting that we compare the fatalities at the Palo Alto airport with the fatality rates of the Bay Area makes no sense at all.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2018 at 2:25 pm

Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Professorville

>> Why Private Planes Are Nearly As Deadly As Cars:

I'm having trouble making the numbers in the article add up, but, the general sense is that private planes are significantly more dangerous per hour than cars, but, significantly less dangerous for a given N-mile trip.

One other note is that private plane usage has generally declined, while airline flying has gone. Perhaps not surprising consider the fantastic improvement in safety and fuel efficiency of airliners.


11 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 6, 2018 at 3:14 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

"When the County got to the point that it realized (finally) that the airport was costing more to run than it wanted to pay, the City of Palo Alto was conned into picking up the operations of the airport by a City Council that was not interested in what the public wanted for the use of that land, or for the dollars that would be needed to subsidize the facility."

That's precisely what it is. The airport is a con job underwritten by the residents of Palo Alto for the enjoyment, mostly, of the old boy network.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 6, 2018 at 3:28 pm

> One other note is that private plane usage
> has generally declined, while airline flying has gone up.

This is true. Don’t have the data at hand, but this decline in GAO aircraft flight hours was obvious from FAA data posted several years ago. Costs to operate a small plane is generally the reason provided by most sources for this decline.


6 people like this
Posted by Moot Point
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 6, 2018 at 5:37 pm

The various posts on whether the airport should be shut down or not are moot. PAO recently received $11M in FAA Airport Improvement Program grants to improve the apron. One of the contingencies of these AIP grants is that airports remain open and accessible to the general public for no less than 20 years.


4 people like this
Posted by CommonSense
a resident of another community
on Sep 7, 2018 at 9:07 am

Holy Cow, the comments on this article are driven by pure emotion!

It seems some just don't want to let a tragedy go to waste, by seizing this opportunity to vent their pent up rage at the airport.

Seriously, you're going to offer your opinions of what actions are needed without all the facts, and before the investigation has even barely started?

Also, I thought it was fairly common knowledge that air travel, including general aviation, is much more safe than driving. You'd think the fact aircraft incidents and accidents are disproportionately reported in the news because they're so rare would be a clue. You never see people calling for closing down roads when there's a vehicle accident. Makes it obvious the concern really isn't about human life, and there's some other agenda.

We get it, you have a problem with the airport, but there's a better time and place to vent your frustrations.


4 people like this
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 7, 2018 at 11:37 am

> One of the contingencies of these AIP grants is that airports remain open and
> accessible to the general public for no less than 20 years.

Presumably, the City Council approved this grant and its contingencies. Given that there is an election, and that the City is now about $7M in the hole subsidizing the airport--it's time to make an issue out of the airport during the on-going election cycle for City Council.

It's doubtful that very many residents were aware of this contingency when the proposal was being moved through City management.

We should be asking the people running for Council seats if there is any kind of built-in exit from the conditions of this grant. If not, then this is another example of how "we the people" is not a part of the governance of Palo Alto.


5 people like this
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 7, 2018 at 12:04 pm

There are those who claim that you can’t shut down an airport that has received FAA funds. Not true in the extreme. The following link reports on the struggle between Santa Monica and the FAA over the closure of the Santa Monica Airport:

Web Link

Yes, it’s a long time before closure—20 years, but it’s not impossible to shut down one of the facilities if that’s what the people of a city want.


2 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 7, 2018 at 8:14 pm

Now that we all know that the pilot died due to his own errors, does anyone else see the tragic irony of this flight, its passengers and its purpose?


1 person likes this
Posted by noisepolluter
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 6, 2018 at 11:40 am

who cares about safety since that’s just a scare tactic so people will overlook the fact that the small crap propeller planes are flying lower and causing noise pollution. there’s nothing wrong with keeping the airport operational, just wish they can enforce rules that the pilots would follow. but obviously they can’t control what a pilot does in the air, only to direct them from point a to point b. this dude that crashed is just taking one for the team.


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