Friends of Sunset Park, a City of Santa Monica-recognized neighborhood organization, has compiled a comprehensive list of aviation accidents/incidents connected with Santa Monica Airport (SMO)
The organization said the following is a partial list of aviation accidents, as of March 6, 2015, associated with SMO.
It’s based on the National Transportation Safety Board database, on newspaper accounts, and on personal accounts.
Some of the accidents occurred at SMO, some while approaching SMO, some after departing from SMO, and some involved planes owned or operated by individuals or companies based at SMO.
3/5/15 – Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR – Owner/Operator: Harrison Ford. – Nonfatal – About 2:25 PM, Ford had just taken off, experienced engine trouble and was circling back to the airport when he crash-landed on the Penmar Golf course, according to air traffic control recordings posted by TMZ.
9/29/13 – Cessna 525A – N194SJ – WPR13FA430 – Owner: CREX-MML, LLC. Operator: private pilot – Fatal (4) – At 6:20 PM PDT, the aircraft veered off the right side of runway 21 at SMO and collided with a hangar. “The private pilot and three passengers were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed by a post-crash fire. The flight originated at Hailey, Idaho.
“Witnesses reported observing the airplane make a normal approach and landing. The airplane traveled down the right side of the runway, eventually veered off the runway, impacted the 1,000-foot runway distance remaining sign, continued to travel in a right-hand turn, and impacted a hangar structure with the right wing. The airplane came to rest inside the hangar, and the damage to the hangar structure caused the roof to collapse onto the airplane. A post-accident fire quickly ensured.
“On-scene examination of the wreckage and runway revealed that there was no airplane debris on the runway. The three landing tires were inflated and exhibited no unusual wear patterns. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) control tower local controller reported that the pilot did not express over the radio any problems prior to or during the landing.”
4/29/13 – Cessna 172RG – N4677V – WPR13FA211A – Owner: AmeriFlyers of Florida, LLC. Operator: American Flyers – Instructional – 1 serious and 2 minor injuries – At about 2 PM PDT, two airplanes, a Cessna 172RG and a Cessna 172N collided in midair, approximately 2 miles southwest of Calabasas. The Cessna 172RG flight instructor and the commercial pilot sustained minor injuries; the pilot rated passenger sustain serious injuries. The Cessna 172RG sustained substantial damage to the left wing. The pilot had requested clearance to depart SMO to the west en route to Camarillo, CA. The request was approved, and the aircraft departed from SMO about 1:53 PM.
4/29/13 – Cessna 172M – N64030 – WPR13FA211B – Owner: private party. Operator: a commercial pilot – Fatal (2) – At about 2 PM PDT, two airplanes, a Cessna 172RG and a Cessna 172M collided in midair, approximately 3 miles southwest of Calabasas, CA. Both the commercial pilot and the private pilot in the Cessna 172M were fatally injured and the Cessna was destroyed. The aircraft had departed from SMO about 1:13 PM, and the pilot had contacted the SMO air traffic control tower and requested pattern work following maintenance. At 1:40, the pilot requested a departure to the west. “Witnesses reported they were hiking in the area when they a very loud strike. When they looked up, they observed two planes. One airplane (Cessna 172RG) was flying to the west. The other airplane (Cessna 172M) was rapidly descending toward the ground; they lost sign of it as it vertically descended behind a ridgeline; However, they saw a plume of black smoke shortly thereafter.”
4/12/13 – Beechcraft 95-C55 – N153NL – WPR13LA189 – Owner/Operator: Schuster Aviation, LLC. About 1:30 PM, the aircraft was on the landing roll at SMO when the left main landing gear collapsed. The private pilot and passenger were not injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. The pilot stated that as he prepared to exit the runway, the airplane’s left brake locked and the tired deflated. Shortly thereafter, the left main landing gear collapsed and the airplane spun around the left wing. The pilot opined that the landing gear collapsed as a result of the tire’s debris interfering with the system.
8/10/12 – Cessna P210N – N41KA – WPR12FA439 – Owner/Operator: private pilot – Fatal (1) – About 4 PM, a Cessna impacted trees and terrain about 3 miles northeast of SMO. The private pilot/owner, the sole occupant, was on a personal flight and was fatally injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage in the post impact fire. According to an LA City firefighter, he heard tree branches snapping, turned around, and saw the airplane in a nose down attitude. The airplane struck a 30-foot-tall palm tree, rotated 90 degrees, and dropped straight down. The witness did not recall hearing the sound of the plane’s engine.
8/29/2011 – Cessna 172M – N5155Q – WPR11FA415 – Owner: Planeminder LLC. Operator: Justice Aviation (3011 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica – SMO) – Instructional – Nonfatal – A few seconds after liftoff from SMO en route to Santa Barbara, the student pilot observed that the airspeed indicator was malfunctioning, and he was cleared to return to the airport. As the plane approached the last ¼ of the runway, it was still about 30 to 40 feet above the surface, and the SMO controller directed him to go around. The pilot raised the wing flaps and pushed the throttle full forward but, observing power lines in front of the airplane, he maneuvered right and left to avoid them. The airplane initially collided with a tree about 900 feet west of the end of the runway, and then collided into a wall and the side of a private residence at 21st and Navy in Santa Monica 90405. The plane was substantially damaged. The student pilot, the sole occupant of the plane, was seriously injured, and two painters working outside the house suffered minor injuries. “The student pilot, as well as his flight instructor, reported that his flight instruction did not include operations simulating loss of airspeed indication. Although the student pilot reported checking the pitot tube prior to departure, post accident examination of the airplane’s pitot tube showed debris, consistent with soil and insect material, was present between the ram air inlet and the drain hole. This resulted in the airspeed indicator showing zero airspeed.”
3/10/11 – Piper PA-280R-200 – N75224 – WPR11LA160 – Owner: Justice Aviation or East Pole Aviation LLC (New York). Operator: Justice Aviation, 3011 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica – SMO) – Instructional – Nonfatal – After departing from SMO, the plane lost power and the instructor from Justice Aviation took over from the student pilot. Despite numerous attempts to regain engine power, he was unsuccessful and was forced to land in a field near Agoura Hills. The plane sustained substantial damage.
7/2/2010 – Beech E-55 – N3644A 00 WPR10LA347 – Owner: Kian Aviation (Pasadena). Operator: K. Heknat (Beverly Hills) – Nonfatal – After departing from SMO, the aircraft flew to Las Vegas. On approach to McCarran International Airport (LAS), the pilot reported that the airplane experienced a total electrical failure. During landing rollout, the nose gear collapsed, followed by the collapse of both main landing gear. The plane sustained substantial damage.
7/1/2010 – Cessna 152 – N94838 – WPR10FA325 Owner: Kim Davidson Aviation (an FAA Certificated Repair Station at 2701 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica – SMO). Operator: Justice Aviation (3011 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica – SMO) – Fatal (1) – During the takeoff climb following a touch-and-go landing SMO, the pilot communicated with a tower controller that he needed to return to the airport for landing, but did not indicate the type of problem. Witnesses observed the airplane make a 90-degree left turn and enter into a spiraling nose-dive. The airplane subsequently impacted a copse of trees near the 8th hole of the Penmar Golf Course. The plane sustained substantial damage. The pilot died. Probable cause was the pilot’s failure to maintain adequate airspeed and airplane control during initial climb, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall/spin and subsequent impact with the ground.
8/2/2009 – Davenport DAVE-EZ – NTCE – WPR09LA380 – Owner/operator: W. Davenport (Los Angeles) – Nonfatal – The aircraft experienced engine failure after takeoff from SMO. The pilot attempted to turn back to land but crashed on the taxiway and suffered serious injuries. The plane sustained substantial damage. The reason for the loss of engine power was not determined.
1/28/2009 – SIAI-MARCHETTI SF-260C – N688C – WPRO9FA102 – Owner: Wingspan, Inc. (Malibu). Operator: P. Emmanuelle (Santa Monica) – Fatal (2) – On departing from SMO, witnesses observed the airplane climb normally after takeoff until reaching an altitude between 200 and 400 feet, then the engine sound stopped. The airplane appeared to slow down as it made a right turn, followed by a descending spin until impacting the west end of the runway and bursting into flames. The probable cause was the pilot’s failure to select the proper fuel tank for takeoff, which resulted in a loss of engine power. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to maintain aircraft control while attempting a return to runway maneuver. The pilot, Paulo Emmanuelle, who was the general manager of the Airliners.net website, and his passenger both died.
10/7/2008 – Iniziative Industriali Italian Sky Arrow 600 Sport – N454SA – WPRO9FA005 – Owner/operator: Northfield Aviation LLC (3100 Donald Douglas Loop North, Santa Monica – SMO) – Instructional – Fatal (1) – After departing from SMO, witnesses observed the plane flying low over the water. And then, while it was making a steep left turn, they saw it nose over and impact the ocean off Malibu and sink. The student pilot and instructor, who suffered critical injuries, were flown by helicopter to UCLA Medical Center. The instructor died on 10/24/08.
1/13/2008 – DeSousa Jabiru J400 – N522RJ – SEA08LA060 – Owner/operator: R. de Sousa (Boulder, Colorado) – Nonfatal – After departing from Avalon for Santa Monica, the private pilot of the home-built aircraft stated that the airplane touched down beyond the midpoint of the SMO runway. The brakes failed, and the plane overran the runway and collided with a ditch. The plane sustained substantial damage. The probable cause was the pilot’s failure to attain the proper touchdown point and the loss of the wheel brake system.
8/31/2007 – Lancair Company LC41-550FG – N2520P – SEA07FA247 – Owner/operator: A. Pasori (Solvang) – Fatal (6) – After departing from SMO for Kernville, the plane crashed near Kern Valley Airport. A witness at the airport stated that, after aborting a first landing attempt, the plane began a left turn, followed by its nose dropping straight down before impacting terrain and bursting into flames. The airplane was completely destroyed by the post-impact fire. Subsequent to purchasing the plane, the pilot had received Lancair training from a certified flight instructor who was neither factory trained, nor a Lancair/Columbia factory trained instructor. The plane, which was designed for pilot and 3 passengers, was 65 lbs over the maximum takeoff weight and 85 lbs over maximum landing weight, and was carrying 6 persons. All 6 died (4 adults and 2 children).
8/31/2006 – Cessna 172P – N97306 – LAX06CA281 – Owner/operator: Tower 20 Enterprises (Santa Monica). Nonfatal – After departing from SMO, the pilot collided with a house during a go-around in Spanish Springs, Nevada. The plane sustained substantial damage.
5/3/2006 – Piper PA-28-181 – N441MA – LAX06CA159 – Owner: S.White. Operator: Justice Aviation (Santa Monica – SMO) – Nonfatal – After departing from Paso Robles for Columbia, CA, the airplane veered off the Columbia runway and came to rest in a ditch. The plane sustained substantial damage. One person suffered minor injuries.
3/13/2006 – Beech A36 – N16JR – LAX06FA129 – Owners: Carlin & Tomarken. (Los Angeles) Operator: P. Tomarken – Fatal (2) – The engine lost power during the takeoff-initial climb from SMO. The pilot tried to return to the airport, then planned to attempt to land on the beach, and ended up ditching into the ocean, where the plane sank in 20 feet of water. Probable cause was the failure of an aviation maintenance technician to properly torque and cotter pin the number 2 connecting rod bolts at their attach point to the crankshaft, which resulted in separation in flight and complete power loss. The pilot (game show host Peter Tomarken) and his wife died. The Tomarkens, who were volunteers with Angel Flight West, a non-profit organization that provides free transportation to needy medical patients, were flying to San Diego to pick up a cancer patient who needed transportation to UCLA Medical Center.
2/10/2005 – Cessna P210N – N432AR – LAX05FA092 – Fatal (2) – Owner/operator: Action Air Express (2701 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica – SMO) – Non-scheduled passenger flight – After departing from Fresno for SMO, during the instrument cross-country flight at night, the pilot encountered severe turbulence at 9,000 ft msl and entered an uncontrolled descent to impact with mountainous terrain at 2,300 feet msl near Lebec, CA. NO record was found that the pilot obtained a preflight or in-flight weather briefing from any official aviation weather service. The plane was destroyed. 2 people died.
12/4/2004 – Piper PA-28-181 – N253D – LAX05CA043 – Owner: J. Olson. Operator: Justice Aviation – (Santa Monica – SMO) – Instructional – Nonfatal – Flown by a student pilot, the plane failed to touch down and, about halfway down the SMO runway, continued to float. When it finally touched down, the instructor applied the brakes, turned right to avoid a ditch, and overran the runway. The plane sustained substantial damage. The probable cause was inadequate supervision, inadequate compensation for tailwind conditions, and delayed remedial action.
3/16/2004 – Mooney M20K – N1148V – LAX04FA162 – Owner/operators: P. Tobias & H. Kilpatrick –(Malibu) – Fatal (2) – During an attempted missed approach in heavy fog at SMO, the aircraft crashed into a home on Mountain View Avenue in Mar Vista. The accident occurred while the pilot was returning home following a skiing vacation in Mammoth. As the pilot approached the airport, a fog bank moved in and the local weather conditions deteriorated. Near the time that the pilot received his instrument approach clearance, the visibility decreased to ½ mile, and the ceiling lowered to 200 feet above ground level; however, that information was not disseminated to the pilot by either the control tower or approach controller, contrary to FAA internal directives. The radar showed the airplane making 360-degree turns about ½ mile from the runway until descending, with what ground witnesses described as increasingly steep angles of bank, into a house. Probable cause was the pilot’s loss of airplane control while maneuvering due to spatial disorientation. Contributing factors were the low ceiling, reduced visibility (fog), and the pilot’s lack of instrument flying currency. The plane was destroyed. The pilot and his wife died. http://articles.latimes.com/2004/mar/17/local/me-plane17
12/23/2003 – Learjet 24B – N600XJ – LAX04FA075 – Owner/operator: Pavair (3135 Donald Douglas Loop South, Santa Monica – SMO) – Executive/corporate flight – Fatal (2) – After departing from Chino (CNO) for Sun Valley, the aircraft departed from controlled flight for undetermined reasons and crashed near Helendale, CA. The plane was destroyed. The captain and first officer were fatally injured.
6/6/2003 – Beech A36TC – N1856P – LAX03FA182 – Owner/operator: J. Siegel (Santa Monica) – Fatal (5) – The aircraft took off from SMO, headed for Las Vegas. During the en route climb-out, the airplane entered the base of an overcast cloud layer, and then descended out of the clouds in a spinning, steep nose down attitude that continued to impact with a 3-story apartment building at 601 N. Spalding Drive, near Fairfax High School. It collided with the roof and came to rest in a subterranean parking area. A post-impact fire destroyed the plane. Probable cause was the pilot’s in-flight loss of control due to spatial orientation and failure to maintain airspeed, which resulted in a stall/spin. Also causal was the pilot’s disregard of the weather information provided and his attempt to continue VFR flight into IMC (instrument meteorological conditions, which require a pilot to follow IFR or Instrument Flight Rules). The pilot did not hold an instrument rating. The pilot and passengers had been at the airport for at least 8 hours, waiting for weather conditions to clear. The pilot, 3 passengers, and a resident of the apartment building died. There were also 7 serious injuries on the ground.
2/3/2002 – Beech 95-B55 – N9DD – LAX02LA076 – Nonfatal – The twin engine plane, piloted by the owner, took off from SMO. It lost power in both engines and landed short of the Hi Desert Airport runway in an unprepared field near homes in Joshua Tree. The plane sustained substantial damage. The main tanks each had 23 gallons of fuel remaining, and the fuel selector valve handles were in the main tank position. (Source: aircrashed.com)
11/13/2001 – Cessna 340A – N2RR – LAX02FA028 – Owner/operator: R. Runyon (Los Angeles) – Fatal (2) – During takeoff from SMO en route to Van Nuys, witnesses reported observing the airplane traveling along the runway at an unusually high speed, with normal engine sound, but without becoming airborne, followed by an abrupt reduction in engine power and the sound of screeching tires. Skid marks were present on the last 1,000 feet of the runway. The plane vaulted an embankment, impacted a guardrail on an airport service road 30 feet below, near 23rd St., and burst into flames. The probable cause was the pilot’s failure to remove the control gust lock prior to takeoff, and his failure to abort the takeoff with sufficient runway remaining to stop the plane on the runway. The plane was destroyed. Both the pilot and his passenger died.
3/28/2001 – Cessna 172N – N2838E – LAX01FA129 – Owner: Bill Bryan, Inc. (Los Angeles). Operator: Justice Aviation, (2701 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica – SMO) – Fatal (3) – A non-instrument rated private pilot rented a Cessna 172 from Justice Aviation. The pilot had taken his primary flight lessons from a Texas-based school and he was, by his own admission, not familiar with flying around marine cloud layers. After departing from SMO, while flying over the ocean on a dark, moonless night, the pilot initiated a turn away from the city lights and commenced descending with a vertical descent rate of over 2,100 feet per minute. A witness one mile away reported that the plane looked as though it was falling straight into the water. The probable cause was the pilot’s loss of airplane control while maneuvering due to spatial disorientation. Contributing factors were the dark night, the marine cloud layer that restricted the pilot’s cruising altitude, and the pilot’s lack of familiarity with nighttime flight over the ocean. The plane was destroyed. The pilot and 2 passengers died.
10/31/1999 – Cessna 170A – N9063 – LAX000LA029 – Owner/operator: A. Bergman (Santa Monica) – Nonfatal – After departing from SMO, the pilot perceived that his airplane’s engine was running rough.
He elected to make a precautionary landing on a smooth dry lakebed in El Mirage, CA to evaluate the engine. During rollout, the pilot lost directional control and ground looped. The plane sustained substantial damage.
9/23/1999 – Cessna 421C – N26585 – LAX99FA310 – Owner/operator: River Transportation LLC (Arroyo Grande, CA) – Executive/corporate flight – Nonfatal – Departing from Long Beach, during the final approach at SMO, while executing a VOR-A instrument approach, the land plane landed hard, collided with the runway VASI display, and caught fire. The impact collapsed the landing gear and the airplane slid forward another 1,000 feet down the runway. The plane sustained substantial damage, and one person suffered minor injuries. The probable cause was the failure of the pilot to establish and maintain a stabilized approach.
7/11/1999 – Rose VELOCITY 173/FG-E – N137V – LAX99LA247 – Owner/operator: R. Flade (Beverly Hills) – Nonfatal – After departing from Camarillo, the plane landed at SMO. A strong gust of wind lifted the wing, then the plane bounced and porpoised down the runway. The pilot attempted a go around, but the plane veered off the runway, passed over a taxiway, clipped 2 parked planes, crossed another taxiway, and hit a steel hanger door. The plane sustained substantial damage, and two people suffered minor injuries.
6/16/1999 – Cessna 180K – N181RC – LAX99LA224 – Owner/operator: D. Wheeler (Santa Fe, NM) – Nonfatal – After departing from Santa Ana for SMO, the pilot reported that he made a steep vertical descent before leveling off and landing on runway 21. A witness said the plane landed hard and porpoised down the runway four times before the left wing hit and the plane ground looped. The plane sustained substantial damage.
2/16/1999 – Grumman G-1159 – N711TE – LAX99FA101 – Owner/operator: Trans Exec Air Service (2828 Donald Douglas Loop North, Santa Monica – SMO) – Non-scheduled passenger flight – Nonfatal – The air taxi departed Montrose, CO for Van Nuys. On final approach to VNY, the pilot flew the airplane above reference speed, landed long, overran the runway, and collided with airplanes in the tie down area. During descent, the airplane reached speeds of over 300 knots and attained descent rates in excess of 4,000 feet per minute. After the airplane came to a rest on the ground, the aircrew evacuated the plane prior to off-loading their passenger.
11/10/1998 – Piper PA-28-161 – N822585 – LAX99LA032 – Owner/operator: G. Cook (3147 Donald Douglas Loop South, Santa Monica – SMO) – Instructional – Nonfatal – The student pilot departed from SMO on his first solo cross-country flight. The aircraft’s landing gear collided with a runway marker during landing at Santa Barbara, and the plane sustained substantial damage. The probable cause was the pilot’s inadequate compensation for the existing crosswind condition.
8/16/1998 – Cessna 177 – N177GS – LAX98FA267 – Owner/operator: G. Suozzi (Marina del Rey) – Nonfatal – The plane departed from Santa Barbara and the engine cased delivering power during the nighttime instrument landing approach to SMO. When they broke out of the clouds, it was apparent to the pilot that the aircraft would not be able to glide to SMO. He maneuvered the aircraft toward a school athletic field (Webster Junior High School, 11330 Graham Place, Los Angeles 90064 – on Sawtelle Blvd. between Pico and National, in West Los Angeles) and made an emergency landing. The aircraft impacted a utility power pole and severed electrical wires prior to landing inverted on the athletic field. The plane was destroyed. Two people suffered major injuries, and two people suffered minor injuries. Two of the passengers told different witnesses that the aircraft had run out of fuel. Probable cause was the failure of the pilot to accurately determine that an adequate quantity of fuel was aboard the aircraft for the intended flight.
8/21/1997 – Cessna 172RG – N99710B – LAX97LA297 – Owner/operator: Justice Aviation (2701 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica – SMO) – Nonfatal – After departing from SMO, the pilot landed hard at Fox Field in Lancaster. The left main landing gear collapsed, and the aircraft veered off to the left of the runway, sustaining substantial damage.
2/7/1997 – Cessna 310Q – N10ML – LAX97LA097 – Owner: Circuitron Corp. (Wilmington, Delaware). Operator: G. Hakman (Los Angeles) – Nonfatal – After departing SMO for Camarillo, both engines lost power. The pilot made a forced landing on Rancho Park Golf Course, 10640 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles 90064. The planed collided with trees and rough terrain and sustained substantial damage. The commercial pilot and passenger suffered minor injuries. Both fuel selectors were improperly set to the left main tank, which was completely dry.
8/4/1996 – Cessna 421C 00 N6209V – LAX96LA296 – Owner: T. Svadgian (Las Vegas). Operator: S. Badzhaksizyan (Laguna Beach). Nonfatal – The plane departed from SMO for Avalon. On landing, the airplane “appeared to float” and did not touch down until midfield on the 3,240-ft runway. The pilot was unable to stop in time. The plane went down an embankment, collided with rough terrain, and came to rest about 120 feet SW of the runway’s end. The plane sustained substantial damage. 7 people were injured (4 seriously). Probable cause was the pilot’s failure to initiate a go-around when a landing overshoot became apparent. Factors which contributed to the accident were: the pilot’s excessive airspeed and misjudged distance during landing, his lack of flying experience in the Cessna, and overconfidence in his personal ability. The pilot previously had landed at SMO. According to the FAA, at Santa Monica the airplane had touched down about 1,000 feet prior to the end of that 4,957-foot-long runway.
8/12/1995 – Ronnenberg/Murphy Berkut – N91DR – LAX95LA289 – Owners: Ronnenberg/Murphy (3025 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica – SMO). Operator: Experimental Aviation – Fatal (1) – During a demonstration air show routine in Santa Paula, the pilot inadvertently entered into an accelerated stall in a maximum performance high-g turn, at an altitude insufficient to recover aircraft control prior to colliding with the ground. The plane was destroyed, and the pilot died.
7/13/1995 – MOONEY M-20-M – N200CT – LAX95LA251 – Owner/operator: C. Tabor (Anderson, SC) – Nonfatal – During takeoff roll at SMO, en route to Abilene, Texas, the pilot realized he had no airspeed indication, decided to abort the takeoff, and skidded off the end of the runway. The plane caught fire and sustained substantial damage. The probable cause was an improperly installed pitot line to the airspeed indicator.
5/7/1995 – DAVENPORT LONG-EZ – N41BF – LAX95LA180 – Owner/operator: W. Davenport (Los Angeles) – Nonfatal – The home-built experimental aircraft lost power as it approached SMO, snagged power lines, narrowly missed a home, and crashed into a garage in the 13000 block of Warren Avenue in Mar Vista. The plane was destroyed. The pilot was critically injured, with severe head injuries. The probable cause was fuel starvation due to a modification of the fuel system that rendered it incapable of maintaining adequate fuel pressure. This was the first flight following the removal of both fuel pumps by the pilot/owner. According to the NTSB, the builder/pilot’s lack of understanding of the fuel system was a factor in this accident.
11/22/1994 – BEECH 95-B55 – N1898W – LAX95LA040 – Owner: B. Yari (Houston, TX). Operator: Cloverfield Aviation (2501 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica – SMO) – Instructional – Nonfatal – The instructor and student pilot departed from SMO on a cross-country checkout. The instructor knew the aircraft had inaccurate fuel gages. When the aircraft lost power, he glided to the SMO runway with the landing gear retracted. The aircraft was destroyed by the post-crash fire. Probable cause was loss of power in both engines due to fuel starvation caused by the instructor’s miscalculations.
4/23/1994 – Fairchild SA-227 – N27220 – LAZ941A203 – The Skywest Airlines flight departed from Santa Maria for LAX. While descending into the downwind leg of the LAX traffic pattern, the commuter plane encountered wake turbulence from a receding Boeing 747-400 and the airplane rolled and inverted. The pilot recovered the airplane, and the flight continued and landed without further incident. Radar data showed that the commuter plane was ca. 5 miles from the B-747, which met the current separation criteria. The plane sustained minor damage, and one person suffered minor injuries. The zipcode of the event was 90405 (Santa Monica).
4/20/1994 – PIPER PA-32R-301T – N8171G – LAX94FA198 – Owner: C. Nassif (Studio City). Operator: P. Brinnon (Northridge) – Fatal (1) – Just after lift-off from SMO, witnesses heard the engine sputter several times and then quit. The pilot began a 180-degree right turn, then descended nose-down and struck a utility pole and a residential garage on Ashland Avenue near 23rd. A post-crash fire ensued and the plane was destroyed. The pilot died on impact. The probable cause was fuel starvation resulting from the failure of the pilot to select a tank containing fuel, and his failure to maintain adequate airspeed while maneuvering for a forced landing, which resulted in an inadvertent stall. After this accident, the Santa Monica Airport Commission established a Safety Committee, which made 37 recommendations.
3/11/1994 – PIPER PA-28-180 – N8129W – LAX94FA159 – Owner/operator: D. Thompson (Culver City). – Fatal (1) – After departing from SMO, the aircraft crashed into a home on Barrington Avenue near National, in West Los Angeles. Investigators blamed a loose engine cowling. The engine cowling, improperly fastened after repairs, came loose as the pilot attempted to return to the airport, creating so much wind resistance that the aircraft could no longer fly. The plane was destroyed. The passenger died, and the pilot was injured.
2/12/1994 – Cessna 172K – N7333G – LAX94LA123 – Owner: H. Lacorne (Los Angeles). Operator: D. Leigh-Taylor (Santa Monica) – Nonfatal – After departing from SMO, the pilot reported that he was landing uphill on a private airstrip in New Cuyama with a gusting left cross wind. The pilot said he lost control after touchdown and the aircraft ground looped, damaging the wings and landing gear. The pilot suffered minor injuries.
12/7/1993 – CESSNA 177RG – N52039 – LAX94LA068 – Owner/operator: W. Stanke (Carson City, Nevada) – Nonfatal – After departing from Carson City for Santa Monica, witnesses reported that the airplane was traveling at a high airspeed on approach to SMO. The plane touched down at midfield at SMO and began to bounce. It then overran the runway and went down an embankment. It sustained substantial damage.
11/26/1993 – SIAI-MARCHETTI F-260 – N126MJ – LAX94FA058 – Owner: K. Halsey. Operator: R. Belzer (Culver City) – Instructional – Fatal (3) – The student pilot requested approval from the SMO tower to do a couple 360-degree turns over the Pier. He failed to maintain minimum air speed during a turn, which resulted in an inadvertent stall/spin. The aircraft crashed into the carport of an apartment building on 4th St. near Bay and burst into flames. Contributing to the accident was improper weight (90 pounds over the gross weight limit), improper balance, inadequate altitude, and inadequate supervision from the instructor. The plane was destroyed. The pilot (the son of filmmaker Sidney Pollack) and 2 passengers died.
7/2/1993 – Piper PA-24-180 – N8058P – LAX93LA271 – Owner/operator: L. Briem (Malibu) – Nonfatal – After departing from SMO, the aircraft experienced a total loss of power, crashed into the ocean about 2 miles off of Malibu, and sank in 20 feet of water. The pilot had executed the emergency procedures and had attempted to restart the engine, but without success. The plane sustained substantial damage and the pilot was injured. The probable cause was that although the fuel selector valve handle was selected to the right tank, which had 15 gallons of fuel, the valve was positioned toward the left tank, which was empty. The valve shaft displayed extreme wear and was rounded, even though an annual inspection had been performed 16 flight hours before the accident.
4/29/1993 – CESSNA 172N – N401KA – LAX93LA193 – Owner: C. Chrysilious. Operator: King Aviation (Van Nuys) – Nonfatal – Departing from Avalon for SMO, the pilot failed to recover from a bounced landing at SMO, which subsequently collapsed the nose landing gear and caused substantial damage. The pilot’s failure to attain a proper touchdown point was a factor.
9/14/1992 – Robinson R22 helicopter – N40795 – LAX92LA385 – Owner/operator: Kim Giffoni, 3100B Donald Douglas Loop, Santa Monica (SMO) – Nonfatal – Departing from Oxnard, the helicopter landed hard in Ojai after total loss of engine power, for undetermined reasons, during a practice auto-rotation. It sustained substantial damage.
9/5/1992 – CESSNA 182A – N54566 – LAX92LA375 – Owner: L. Albright (Los Angeles) – Nonfatal – Arriving from Agua Dulce, the pilot undershot the SMO runway, causing the plane to nose over onto its back. The plane sustained substantial damages, and 4 people suffered minor injuries.
6/24/1992 – Newhall – Cessna 140 – N76962 – LAX92LA261 – Owner/operator: B.Grieves (Santa Monica) – Instructional – Nonfatal – The student pilot initiated a solo cross-country flight into a mountain pass, encountered turbulence, and made a precautionary landing on a road near Newhall, colliding with a fence and a berm, sustaining substantial damage. The student’s flight had not been authorized by a certified flight instructor. The FAA had previously warned the pilot not to perform unauthorized flights in his airplane. Probable cause was the pilot’s poor judgment and his overconfidence in his ability to fly his airplane.
4/2/1992 – Robinson R22B – N504RS – LAX92LA162 – Owner: S. Randolph (Los Angeles). Operator: Santa Monica Helicopters (3100 Donald Douglas Loop North, Santa Monica – SMO) – Instructional – The aircraft departed from Van Nuys Airport. The flight instructor reported that he delayed the flare until it was too late to properly touchdown from the autorotation landing he was demonstrating to his student in Simi Valley. One skid dug into the soft ground, control was lost, and the helicopter dynamically rolled over, sustaining substantial damage.
3/9/1992 – CESSNA 172P – N98662 – LAX92LA140 – Owner: ATE of New York. Operator: American Flyers (3100 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica – SMO) – Instructional – Nonfatal – On a second supervised solo flight, the student pilot lost control of the plane on the 3rd of 3 landings at SMO due to excessive approach airspeed. The plane bounced and porpoised, which damaged the firewall.
1/18/1992 – MOONEY M-20-C – N6481U – LAX92FA094 – Owner/operator: J. Wirgler (Santa Monica) – Fatal (2) – Shortly after taking off from SMO, the aircraft clipped a utility pole, burst into flames, and ended up in the front yard of a home on Dewey St. at Walgrove in Santa Monica. The plane was destroyed, and the pilot and passenger died. The probable cause was fuel contamination by water due to failure of the fuel caps to properly seal. According to the Los Angeles Times, the identification of the pilot was made by Gary Danforth of Danforth Aviation (SMO), who said he had sold, maintained, and provided storage for the 4-passenger craft. He also said that Wirgler had owned the plane for about 6 months.
10/4/1991 – Cessna 421C – N5486G – LAX92LA007A – Owner/operator: T. Dalton (Los Angeles) – Nonfatal – The Cessna 421 pilot looked down as he was approaching the run-up area and taxied into the stopped Cessna 152, which was waiting for takeoff clearance, causing substantial damage.
10/4/1991 – Cessna 152 – N93839 – Nonfatal (see next entry)
2/24/1991 – PIPER PA46-301P – N9132X – LAX91LA112 – Owner/operator: Malibu Air (Santa Monica)
— Nonfatal – After departing from Taos for SMO, the aircraft crashed into a home on Sherbourne Drive in West Los Angeles while attempting an emergency landing. The aircraft suffered substantial damage. The pilot had miscalculated the weight of the passengers and baggage (260 pounds over the maximum weight limit), which led to miscalculating the fuel consumption rate. The result was fuel exhaustion and loss of engine power.
8/24/1990 – Hughes 369D – N5012A – LAX90LA303 – Owner/operator: Aris Helicopter (San Jose) – Nonfatal – After departing from LAX, the pilot landed the helicopter on the roof of a shopping mall parking structure in Santa Monica and exited with the engine running. The helicopter lifted off about 10 feet and rolled over, suffering substantial damage. Probable cause was the pilot’s decision to exit the helicopter with the engine running and no one at the controls.
2/26/1990 – REID LONG-EZ – N100PY – LAX90DUD02 – Owner/operator: W. Reid (Los Angeles) – Fatal (1) – About a half hour after takeoff from SMO, the home-built aircraft crashed into the ocean about 4 miles offshore from the Pier in heavy fog. The probable cause was the pilot’s loss of control due to special disorientation. “The tower queried the flight about its position and the pilot responded that ‘Actually, I can’t tell.’ That was the last communication.” The plane was destroyed and the pilot died.
10/26/1989 – Wheeler Aircraft Co. EXPRESS 100 – N200EX – LAX90DUD01 – Owner/operator: Wheeler Aircraft (Tacoma) – Nonfatal – Departing from SMO for El Monte, the experimental aircraft crashed into 3 homes on Greenfield Ave. in West Los Angeles, causing a fire. Probable cause was the mechanical failure of the engine due to the wearing away of the piston pin plug, the connecting rod bearings, and a broken connecting rod. The plane was destroyed, and the pilot and passenger were injured.
10/7/1989 – Piper PA-38-112 – N251ST – LAX90LA005 – Owner/operator: C & K Aviation, 2501 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica (SMO) – Instructional – Nonfatal – After departing from Santa Paula for Paso Robles, the 44-hour student pilot failed to understand that the uncontrolled Paso Robles airport’s 3 windsocks and wind tee were indicating that Runway 13 was favorable for landing. Instead, the pilot landed on Runway 31, experienced a quartering tailwind, drifted off the left side of the runway, and nosed over in a plowed field. The plane sustained substantial damage.
9/2/1989 – North American P51D (World War II vintage P-51 Mustang) – N51MR – LAX89FA295 – Operator: Jackson McGoon Aircraft Corp., Los Angeles – Nonfatal – Immediately after takeoff from SMO, the engine’s #5 intake valve seat backed out of the head, resulting in the loss of power of 3 cylinders. The pilot entered a turn to return to the runway. The aircraft stalled and collided with a residence on Wade St. in Mar Vista. The plane sustained substantial damage, and the pilot and his co-pilot wife suffered serious injuries. The aircraft flight manual recommended a straight ahead flight in the event of power loss. (This account is from the blog of the pilot’s sister-in-law: “Out of the blue, an actual bolt flew off the engine and into the propeller…birds followed. The plane spiraled out of control. The plane rolled, rolled again, and crashed….The two elderly sisters who owned the house were not at home – they were out walking their dog.”)
8/6/1989 – CESSNA 152 – N95693 – LAX89LA266 – Operator: Gunnell Aviation, 3100 Donald Douglas Loop North, Santa Monica (SMO) – Instructional – Nonfatal – During solo flight which departed from SMO, the student pilot landed hard at SMO, the plane began to porpoise down the runway, with each oscillation growing larger until the nose gear collapsed.
7/9/1989 – Cessna 210 – N609AC – LAX89LA233 – Owner/operator: P. Gondal (Marina del Rey) – Instructional – Nonfatal – On its first flight after annual inspection, the plane departed from SMO but subsequently lost all engine power, and the pilot was forced to land at Hillcrest Country Club Golf Course, 10000 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles 90064. The plane was destroyed. One person suffered serious injuries, a second person suffered minor injuries. The cause was an under-torqued oil line fitting, due to its improper installation by maintenance personnel. This resulted in a loose oil line fitting, an oil line leak, oil exhaustion and subsequent failure of the engine.
7/7/1989 – CESSNA 150M – N704YY – LAX89LA236 – Owner: M. Milleken. Operator: Danforth Aviation, 3306 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica (SMO) – Instructional – Nonfatal – Due to improper installation of the carburetor throttle linkage arm, the engine power dropped to idle as the flight instructor and student pilot were practicing touch-and-go landings and takeoffs at SMO. During the descent into a forced landing, the airplane impacted wires and a traffic light pole and ended up on Rose Avenue in Venice. The plane sustained substantial damage. Post accident inspection revealed that the throttle arm had fallen off the carburetor shaft.
5/10/1989 – Beech 200 – N39YV – LAX89FA192 – Owner/operator: Mesa Airlines (New Mexico) – Fatal (1) – Two planes, including N39YV, departed SMO on a cross country flight to Farmington, New Mexico. The 2nd pilot reported that they were around 4,500 feet as they neared the mountains, and that clouds were about 1,000 ft above. The 2nd pilot heard the lead pilot report that he was going up. This was the last known transmission. Two days later, the lead aircraft was found where it had crashed, about 100 ft below the top of a 7,400 ft mountain ridge near Azusa, CA. The plane was destroyed. The probable cause was improper in-flight planning decision.
11/24/1987 – Cessna 152 – N5418P – LAX88LA054 – Owner: Lawson/Nol (Los Angeles). Operator: Gunnell Aviation (3000 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica – SMO) – Instructional – Nonfatal – After departing from SMO, a partial loss of power occurred while the student pilot was on a solo cross-country flight. He made an emergency landing on an upward sloping terrain near San Clemente. During the landing roll, the nose gear hit a hole and the aircraft nosed over. The plane sustained substantial damage/ The #3 exhaust valve would not operate as the crankshaft was rotated. During maintenance the previous day, the #3 valves had been adjusted.
9/22/1987 – CESSNA 172P – N5366 – LAX87LA349 – Owner: ATE of New York. Operator: American Flyers (3021 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica – SMO) – Instructional – Nonfatal – The student pilot, on his first supervised solo flight, stated that the aircraft caught a gust of wind and ballooned while he was landing at SMO, that he overcorrected, and that the aircraft nosed down into the runway, resulting in substantial damage.
8/11/1987 – Boeing 737 – N754UA – LAX871A304 – Nonfatal – Pilots of an Americans Airline jet reported that a near-collision occurred 2.5 miles east of the Santa Monica VOR. The co-pilot took evasive action and estimated that they passed the unidentified aircraft with about 100 ft of separation.
7/15/1987 – Cessna T210L – N7JT – LAX87FA267 – Owner/operator: N. Rubinstein (Culver City) – Fatal (1) – The plane departed from SMO headed for San Jose. Witnesses on a boat saw the aircraft in a steep climb altitude just below the bases of the clouds, followed by rolling over and diving steeply to the ocean off of Marina del Rey. The plane was destroyed and the pilot died.
6/18/1987 – Cessna 172N – N738JV – LAX87LA238 – Owner: B. Baker (Gardena). Operator: American Flyers (3021 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica – SMO) – Instructional – Nonfatal – After the aircraft departed from SMO, witnesses stated that they had observed the aircraft flying erratically along and over the populated beach area in Malibu at altitudes varying from 10 to 50 feet above ground level. When the aircraft turned right towards the mountains, it cleared an apartment complex by 10 feet and eventually collided with the terrain, sustaining substantial damage.
5/17/1987 – CESSNA 182L – N42814 – LAX87FA207 – Owner/operator: T. Robinson (Pacific Palisades) – Nonfatal – Losing power shortly after takeoff from SMO, the single engine aircraft crashed into 3 cars while trying to land on Rose Avenue in Mar Vista. Inspection showed that the shaft bushing was worn, the maintenance facility had not done a final inspection per FAA guidelines, and the owner had refused to do a recommended major carburetor overhaul because of the quoted price. The aircraft was destroyed. The the pilot, two passengers, and a motorist were injured.
10/16/1986 – Cessna 172 – N1048F – LAX87MA018 – Owner: C. Plank (Malibu). Operator: American Flyers (3021 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica – SMO) – Instructional – Fatal (2) – While returning to SMO during flight training, the plane was diverted when the SMO runway was closed due to a disabled aircraft. Due to a series of air traffic control errors, in overcast weather, the plane hit the mountains in the Altadena area at an assigned altitude of 3,000 ft. The plane was destroyed. The student pilot and the instructor (who had just moved to California from Florida) were killed.
7/5/1986 – Mooney M20F – N6762V – LAX86LA312 – Owner/operator: V. Kelly (Santa Monica) – Nonfatal – After departing from SMO for Ukiah, the aircraft collided with wires following a loss of control near Cloverdale, CA. The pilot was following a river at about 1,500 ft msl at a slow airspeed when the stall warning sounded. He lowered the nose in a downdraft and recovered too close to the ground. The plane sustained substantial damage.
8/30/1985 – Cessna T303 – N6490V – Owner: R. Risher (Century City). Operator: Gunnell Aviation (3000 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica – SMO) – Instructional – Nonfatal – After departing from SMO, the plane suffered a substantial loss of power in both engines, leading to a forced landing in a field in Simi Valley. The plane was engulfed in flames and destroyed. 3 people were seriously injured. The probable cause was a cracked fuel line fitting and a leaking turbocharger gasket.
5/4/1985 – BEECH V35A – N4RW – LAX85FA238 – Owner/operator: H. Sanderson (Los Angeles) – Air taxi flight – Nonfatal – The aircraft departed from SMO for Richfield, Utah. Upon noting a fuel odor, the pilot returned to the airport. After the plane landed and was turning off the runway, fire erupted, and the plane was badly damaged. The fuel lines, which were supposed to be replaced every 5 years, did not appear to have been replaced.
12/1/1984 – Cessna 152 – N4974B – LAX85LA055 – Owner/operator: Claire Walters Flight Academy (3200 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica – SMO) – Instructional – Nonfatal – On a solo cross-country flight that departed from SMO, the student pilot stated that, while landing at Paso Robles, a 45-degree cross wind picked up the wing and flipped the aircraft over. The plane sustained substantial damage.
10/8/1984 – CESSNA 180 – N4932A – LAX85LA022 – Owner/operator: W.Weber (Big Bear) – Nonfatal – The wheels locked up on landing at SMO and the aircraft nosed over, sustaining substantial damage.
9/3/1984 – Great Lakes 2T-1A-Z – N3673L – LAX84LA468 – Operator: California Aviation (2501 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica – SMO) – Instructional – The student pilot and CFI departed SMO for Van Nuys Airport. During the 3rd touch-and-go landing at VNY, the student pilot applied heavy braking, causing the aircraft to noise over before coming to a rest inverted. It sustained substantial damage.
2/18/1984 – BEECH A36 – N9876T – LAX84FA183 – Owner/operator: Grayce Construction (Los Angeles) – Nonfatal – After departing from SMO for Oxnard, the aircraft lost power due to electrical system and mechanical problems. The pilot returned to SMO, but the landing gear didn’t extend, and the aircraft sustained substantial damage.
7/21/1983 – CESSNA 172M – N13658 – LAX83LA356 – Owner: J. Krischke. Operator: A & E Flying Club (Hawthorne) – Nonfatal – After departing from Hawthorne Airport for SMO, the aircraft began to porpoise during landing at SMO and sustained substantial damage.
3/13/1983 – Mooney M20J – N8201V – LAX83FA138 – Owner: E. Eberhardt (Marina del Rey). Operator: C & K Aviation (2501 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica – SMO) – Fatal (2) – After departing from Mammoth Lakes en route to SMO and flying VFR in adverse weather (heavy rain and fog) when VFR was not recommended, the aircraft collided with power lines and then impacted terrain. There was fire after impact, the aircraft was destroyed, and two people died. Part of the aircraft rudder was found in the vicinity of the broken power line. The wreckage was located about 2.4 miles SW of the broken power line, near Chatsworth.
9/21/1982 – Piper PA-28RT-20IT – N80947 – LAX82FA347 – Owner: J. Valone (Los Angeles). Operator: Danforth Aviation (3306 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica – SMO) – Instructional – Nonfatal – After departing from SMO, the engine seized at approximately 3,500 ft and the aircraft was ditched off the beach at Malibu, suffering substantial damage. The right mag distributor block showed evidence of carbon tracking and cross firing. Neither end of the right mag had breather plugs installed. All spark plugs were excessively fouled and severely eroded. Springs on the spark plugs were burned and dirty. The #1 conrod was splitting lengthwise and was in several pieces. Examination of the logbook showed improper maintenance practices.
8/22/1982 – Piper PA-24-250 – N6825P – LAX82FA308 – Owner/operator: K. Jackson (Los Angeles) – Fatal (1) – The plane departed from SMO for a local flight. The pilot subsequently called from downtown Los Angeles for a landing at SMO. He reported having engine trouble and struck the roof of a house in a densely populated area of Los Angeles, coming to rest on top of two cars. Probable case was that the fuel selector was on the right tank, which was dry. The plane was destroyed and the pilot was killed.
7/5/1982 – Beech 60 – N626RP – LAX82FA244 – Owner/operator: R. Phillips (Santa Monica) – Nonfatal – The aircraft departed from SMO for Oceano, CA. At 700 feet, the left engine failed, the right engine lost power, and the plane crashed into the ocean about 2,000 yards from the Pier. Lifeguards rescued the pilot when he surfaced.
6/26/1982 – Cessna 150 – N45477 – LAX82FUVM15 – Owner: S. Parfet (Santa Monica) – Nonfatal – Before departing from SMO for Monterey, the pilot forgot, in his fuel calculations, to account for fuel that had been burned previously. During the flight, when the pilot recognized his fuel state, there was not enough remaining to reach an airport. The aircraft ran out of fuel about 6 miles from the destination airport while the pilot was landing in a field near Point Lobos. The aircraft nosed over.
5/16/1982 – Piper PA-28-20IT – N8089N – LAX82DA176 – Owner: F. Morgan (Los Angeles). Operator: California Aviation (2501 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica – SMO) – Nonfatal – After departing from SMO for Porterville, the engine suddenly lost power. The pilot maneuvered to make a forced landing at Van Nuys Airport. The aircraft crash landed between Runways 16L and 16R. The #2 connecting rod had failed from fatigue due to partial surface decarburization.
4/10/1982 – PIPER PA-38-112 – N2588D – LAX82DA145 – Owner/operator: California Aviation (2501 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica – SMO) – Instructional – Nonfatal – During landing at SMO, the student pilot allowed the aircraft to bounce. The nose gear buckled and the aircraft skidded off the runway, sustaining substantial damage.
1/19/1982 – CESSNA 182E – N9255X – LAX82DA043 – Owner/operator T.Dalton (Los Angeles) – Nonfatal – The aircraft departed from Van Nuys Airport. Upon landing touchdown at SMO, the aircraft bounced at high speed and departed the runway. The pilot applied brakes and the aircraft skidded to a halt just before a ditch.
Summer of 1980 – Santa Monica Councilman and former Mayor Pieter van den Steenhoven died when his light plane crashed into the ocean.
1978 to 1987 – Eleven “landing off the runway” incidents involving airplanes that used SMO occurred during these years.
Mid-1970s – Around sunset (6 or 7 PM), a small aircraft with a flight instructor and two students onboard was on approach to land at SMO when it hit a power line and crashed into a house on Barry Avenue, about three houses south of Brookhaven Avenue, in West Los Angeles. All three were fatally injured. (Source: Joan Rubin)
6/24/1970 – Former City Councilman Kenneth Wamsley was involved in a fatal crash adjacent to Penmar Golf Course after having taken off from SMO. (Source: Nat Trives)