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Blog | Another Tragedy, Another Reason to Reevaluate Urban Air Traffic

The Santa Monica Airport is a private jet port for the rich and famous, a menace to public health and to public safety.

A fresh look at where an airport is located should be given a great deal of consideration by our federal government.

Surely general aviation airports should be located in unpopulated or sparsely populated areas. Here by Santa Monica Airport (SMO), we now have three acidents spaced about one year apart, with two fatalities to the pilots of two of the aircraft.

1.  Santa Monica Patch (Aug. 10, 2012) - - By City News Service and David Carini

2.  Santa Monica Patch (Aug. 29, 2011) - - By Kurt Orzeck 

At 2:27 p.m. on Aug. 29, a single-engine Cessna 172M flown by a student pilot traveling across the country crashed into a home near 21st and Navy streets during an attempt to land at SMO.

3.  Santa Monica Mirror (July 01, 2010) - Plane Crashes After Takeoff Into Penmar Golf Course - By Christopher Rosacker / former editor-in-chief

A small airplane crashed into Penmar Golf Course on the north border of Venice and Santa Monica shortly after 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 1. The course sits just at the end of the runway of Santa Monica Municipal Airport, indicating that the plane crashed immediately after takeoff.

The pilot, 60-year-old Robert Ralsey Davenport of Los Angeles, was the sole occupant of the plane and was killed from injuries sustained in the crash after being treated by Los Angeles Fire Department rescuers, the Los Angeles Coroners office confirmed. The coroner also indicated that Davenport was a student pilot doing "pattern work" flying – which includes touch-and-go landings and takeoffs, among other things

I have attached a sequence of five WebTrak screen captures to show both how WebTrak can be used and how the most recent, Aug. 10, 2012 tragic crash unfolded. You can find the time and elevations on each shot. In the last two you will notice a drop of approximately 1,000 feet in just over a minute.

The airport's neighbors have been fortunate to avoid bodily harm from these three crashes, but what if a private jet were to have an accident into the densely populated surrounding SMO neighborhood? Logic and probability point to a reasonable conclusion that it is only a matter of time until a very tragic scenario unfolds. The FAA and NTSB would then have a lot of explaining to do.

In the meantime jets continue to spew toxic emissions on thousands downwind of
SMO and piston planes continue to cast lead deposits on the dense urban areas
surrounding not just SMO, but all airports. Who is counting the deaths that
have resulted from these toxic chemicals? Who is interested in ascertaining how
human health is affected by SMO and other airport operations? Certainly not
those who have a financial stake.

Just as the economy suffers from protecting the interests of the 1 percent, our local Westside environment, safety and quality-of-life suffers at the service of the 1 percent of jetsetters too.

We, the community, need to continue to insist that this airport be known for what it really is; a private jet port for the rich and famous, a menace to public health, and a menace to public safety! 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Glenn E Grab August 13, 2012 at 03:46 PM
So, Martin, you're upset because the "rich and famous" are flying their private planes into SM Airport....Whom did you think would be flying in private jets, the "poor and homeless"?...the Federal Government will do nothing for you or your fellow cry-babies.....your beloved liberal legislators from this area are the people who are the passengers on these planes....do you think they're going to fly in and out of LAX and be subjected to the hassle that the rest of us go through....you're wasting your time with this obsession....Do something useful, like picking up dog feces at the local park...that's a good "pet project" for you..
Chris August 13, 2012 at 05:07 PM
This is all about one-percenters who believe that their needs come above all others. One person in a plane, jeopardizing the health, sanity (from constant noise bombardment) and safety of hundreds of thousands in return for their convenience. When will this become a Democracy where the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one?
Richard B August 13, 2012 at 05:42 PM
100 % Right " We, the community, need to continue to insist that this airport be known for what it really is; a private jet port for the rich and famous, a menace to public health, and a menace to public safety! " Close it in 2015
Susan Griffin August 13, 2012 at 09:44 PM
The pictures of this crashed plane were haunting--I kept imagining the same sort of accident but with one of the big jets. I can't imagine that in that case, there'd be the same lucky sparing of the lives of bystanders!
natalie mcadams August 13, 2012 at 10:59 PM
I completely agree. While I feel for the pilot's family, I don't think it is inappropriate for those of us who live in neighborhoods near SMO to ask when is enough enough? When are the FAA and the City of Santa Monica going to do something about the dangers to our families, both from crashes and from the toxic pollution. And the reality is that there is no compelling reason for SMO to continue to operate! Other than the convenience of a few - whether they are wealthy or not!
Glenn E Grab August 14, 2012 at 04:51 PM
the airport's been there for a long time, you bought your house, all the time knowing it was there.....the airport is grandfathered in and used by those very legislators for whom you voted(liberals, all of them)...ask your elected officials if they're willing to start using LAX like the rest of us have to....
Glenn E Grab August 14, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Chris, they tried that in Russia....it didn't work....it was called Communism...
Love the beach August 14, 2012 at 04:56 PM
My heart goes out to the family of the pilot and his co workers and friends. He seemed to be a caring pilot running flights for Angel Haven. His 20 years of skill as a pilot helped him land that plane under great distress away from Olympic on a less crowded street. It is tragic he lost his life. I do think this just further illustrates that even with a very experienced pilot when these planes malfunction or have student pilots like the first two crashes those in the surrounding areas are at risk. The first two crashes were near my house, my son was at that golf course an hour before that crash. When you have the possibility of crashing planes into cars near the westside pavilion or houses, parks, and schools, the flight schools and Santa Monica Airport need to be drastically changed if not closed except for emergency flights. Three crashes, three fatalities, but many more could have died in one year. This effects all of us from east of Westwood Blvd. to the Ocean it is time for our elected leaders to do their job and use common sense. These schools and large jets should be flying out of a less densely populated part of Los Angeles.
an interested observer August 14, 2012 at 07:15 PM
We used to call that socialism.
Richard B August 16, 2012 at 08:21 PM
I would like to also add the flight schools have no security measures in place to see who these people are and where they are from while learning to fly? Remember 911? They were all trained at a "general aviation airport" like SMO. Yes WE all have to go thru a horrible security process to take commercial flights at LAX? But what about the general aviation airports. NOTHING ! What's up with that FAA? So many issues with this airport. The SM City Council does nothing at all.
Anroo August 29, 2012 at 07:55 PM
To be fair there should be a moratorium on jets landing at SMO as they have not been here since the airport was opened and create a lot more noise. But to close down the airport is simply a matter of the People's republic of Santa Monica taking away all the fun of being a pilot and affording some of the LA city council to go out and do some grandstanding. There is perhaps not as likely a chance for an accident at LAx but it is probable.

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