Two recent fatal accidents involved airplanes that crashed shortly after takeoff from municipal airports in California and Massachusetts, damaging nearby homes but causing no injuries to persons on the ground.
On Feb. 27 a twin-engine Cessna 310 took off from Riverside, California, at about 4:40 p.m., headed for San Jose. The airplane descended almost immediately, contacting one house and then crashing into another and killing three of the aircraft’s five occupants. Two other occupants were injured, according to news reports that said the party on board had attended a local cheerleading competition.
Two houses were reported destroyed in the resulting fire. The neighborhood where the aircraft came down was about a half mile from the airport.
On Feb. 28, a single-engine homebuilt Sonex airplane on final approach to the municipal airport in Lawrence, Massachusetts, struck the roof of an unoccupied condominium, killing the pilot and sole occupant, Alan Lavender, 73, a former mayor of nearby Newburyport, Massachusetts.
Lavender had taken off with plans to remain in the traffic pattern. A radio call between the pilot and the control tower made during the flight had indicated no difficulties, reports said.
Among reports of 911 calls released by local police were witness accounts that the aircraft appeared to be on fire as it descended.
“Neither of these accidents resulted in injuries on the ground, which are rare in general aviation,” said Richard McSpadden, executive director of AOPA’s Air Safety Institute. “The NTSB is investigating the accidents. The AOPA Air Safety Institute will utilize NTSB findings to enhance safety videos, seminars, and courses that are free to all pilots, to continue the trend in driving down general aviation accidents.”