Update: 1 Killed in West L.A. Plane Crash

Pilot took off from Santa Monica Airport. No reports of injuries to anyone on the ground.

A small plane crashed in a West Los Angeles neighborhood Friday shortly after taking off from , killing one person aboard but causing no injuries to anyone on the ground.

The pilot of the single-engine Cessna 210 radioed the Santa Monica tower at about 6:10 p.m. to declare an emergency and advised he would try to return to the airport, according to Ian Gregor of the Federal Aviation Administration.

The plane was registered to a Santa Monica resident. It was unclear where the pilot, whose name was unavailable early Saturday, was traveling, Gregor said.


The four-place, high-wing plane with retractable landing gear crashed in the 2100 block of South Glendon Avenue a short time later, about three miles northeast of the airport. The aircraft broke into several pieces, with the bulk of the wreckage bursting into flames at the base of a palm tree that burned to its trunk.

One person was found dead in the wreckage. 

"It was very fortunate that the plane did not hit a house, and that there were no injuries to residents," said Los Angeles Fire Department Assistant Chief Andy Fox. 

He said that a firefighter was already on the scene due to an unrelated traffic accident, so crews were able to respond right away and put the fire out quickly.

Guy Cohen was driving by the intersection of South Glendon Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard when "the plane jut blew up in smoke," he said.

He said the plane appeared to be flying in a gradual decline until it hit the tree.

A man who said he was driving in the area shortly before the crash told NBC4 he noticed a small plane flying abnormally low.

"I didn't hear any abnormal engine noise," the man said, adding that he saw no signs of distress in the way the plane was flying, other than the fact is was "extremely" low.

"It was a red flag immediately," he said.

Another witness told the station the plane appeared to clip the top of a dead palm tree and crash to the ground.

The crash will be investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

"We found some remnants of the wings and the tail section," said Los Angeles Police Department Cmmdr. Bill Scott.

On Aug. 29 of last year, a student pilot broke his leg and injured a man on the ground when he crashed a single-engine Cessna into a home near 21st and Navy in Santa Monica after taking off from .

The accident was the first known to have involved a student pilot directly associated with a Santa Monica-based flight school.


Chuck Mason August 11, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Easy Chris, easy! Start planning now; you have three years until your job at SMO is eliminated by the local citizenry. By then, the economy should be on a firm path of recovery from 8 years of Republican credit card charges. Your skills can be utilized at numerous Goodwills in the area.
josh walters August 11, 2012 at 05:35 PM
plane crashes don't happen that often. and most times a plane crashes its going to take off or done landing and go to a terminal and it clips another plane or if a plane declares an emergency and lands in a field or wherever no one gets hurt or or gets minor injures. with car crashes it happens millions of times a year and people get seriously injured or even die. so plane crashes happen [ ] and car crashes happen [ ].
Cliff Waeschle August 11, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Maybe Caltrans should move the 405 the next time there is a crash in west LA.
Rose Bartl August 11, 2012 at 08:28 PM
It is a tragic day for the pilot and his family, but he should also be commended for not hitting any homes. There was a similar incident that took place several years ago here in Sanford, FL, but the people on the ground were not so lucky. The plane hit a house and more were killed, including a baby that was asleep in its crib. The pilot may have sacrificed himself and elected to hit a tree in lieu of the nearby homes.
mimi brown August 11, 2012 at 09:01 PM
I agree, however, moving the airport would result in more populated buildings.
Dr D A Hanson August 11, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Close the Santa Monica Airport ... we have been trying for years. It is no longer a safe locale for any air traffic and especially with private jets flying in and out now.
Dr D A Hanson August 11, 2012 at 09:44 PM
I agree with you, John. The airport location is unsafe now in such a heavilly populated area of homes, schools, hospitals, hotels, ad infinitum. When first built th
josh walters August 11, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Why close or move the airport? Airport is nearly 100 years old and now most homes are less then 20 years old. Do the math. who has more accidents planes or cars? at SMO there is less then 1 crash a year and within the last 4 or 5 years there have been less 4 crashes. there are probably millions of car crashes in and around L.A. each year. 1 crash a year or less at SMO compared to millions or car crashes in L.A. Think about that one.
an interested observer August 11, 2012 at 11:33 PM
We'll," private jets flying in and out now"...........they've been flying in and out since 1980. So far they are a lot safer than your streets.
Heidi Davidson August 12, 2012 at 12:38 AM
On a day when we are grieving the loss of our friend in yesterdays plane accident, ...We feel we must stop the disrespect, from people ..who are using this accident..for their own political and personal gain. Our friend flew out of Santa Monica Airport for 35 years. He is a hero...he went into a tree...not a building....If you knew our friend you would know it was a manuver to not hit a building.....Bill Rosendahl stood fifty feet from a fatailty a couple of years ago..as the pilots body lay in the aircraft...he went on T.V. ....As the pilots family and friends stood a few feet away..Never a word about the family or the pilot...Just political views and opinions....These are the type of people who are behind closing Santa Monica Airport...... We ask you to please stop....and have a little respect at this time....
Ben Adam August 12, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Yeah - it was a brilliant idea to move all the flight paths over the populous. Expect more of this. How many before anything is done? As long as no relatives of the board were harmed, all's well in Santa Monica.
natalie mcadams August 13, 2012 at 05:44 AM
Sad as it is for the pilot and his family, it is appropriate that those of us who live under the flight path and face the danger of this type of accident happening on our street or in our homes, comment on the obvious dangers and the need for a solution. Let's see should we keep SMO which is a luxury airport, not really needed or should we relocate 100s of families in Venice, Santa Monica and West Los Angeles? The answer is obvious unless you have a personal stake in SMO. And by the way, what relevance does the danger of driving a car have to do with flying a plane. If i am driving my car, i am taking a risk of being a car wreck. If I am sitting in my home near SMO and someone hits my house with their plane, I didn't assume that risk.
Carter Miles August 13, 2012 at 03:27 PM
"Dr" Hanson? You are a biased fool. The airport was there first. The opportunists bought houses for cheap in the flight path and now want the airport closed to up their property values . Perhaps we should close the 10 and the 405 because people die there too. Close the beaches: people drown there. Ban matches-no more fires. The utter selfishness and rank stupidity and the faulty 'logic' of those who want to close the airport because of these rare tragedies is exceeded only by the irony that this pilot victim would have selflessly served any of you had you needed his help.
Christine White August 13, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Great rebuttle Carter! My sentiments exactly.
James King August 13, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Absolutely. This airport needs to be closed down. We constantly have beginner pilots circling over our house in Venice. Every time I see one I pray that it will crash into the sea. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to lie: each SMO plane crash fills me with happiness.
James King August 13, 2012 at 05:46 PM
I absolutely agree with you Dr. Hanson. This airport is no longer working for the greater good of our community. Just think of all the people living under the flight path. Its a miracle more people aren't killed on the ground when these things happen. All that said, my greatest concern is the leaded fuel that these small planes use. That lead pollution rains down on our westside neighborhoods, playgrounds, back yards and parks -- places where my growing child plays. I can't stand the thought that my baby is exposed to lead pollution because a few people want to circle around in their planes. Unacceptable!
James King August 13, 2012 at 05:48 PM
If your SMO supporters want to mourn, why not take ONE DAY OFF from flying over my house??? Instead all we get is more planes the very next day. If you ooh a week of from flying, we would spend a moment thinking about the lost life. Until then, good riddance.
Richard B August 13, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Tragedy indeed-condolences to the family. Perhaps it is time to close this dangerous airport for good. The airport operations should close in 2015 when the lease is up. The airport (SMO) operates at a lose and the tax payers are paying for the many of pilots that don't live in the area. The locals deal with this kind of fear that a plane could land on their homes everyday. This accident is another example of why this airport should be closed for good. The huge increase in jet traffic and flight schools add to the probability of another crash or the many near misses that go on charted. Thanks all you pilots that always have to play the "who was their first and the freeway nonsense" We are not buying it. Sorry Pilot
Richard B August 13, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Sorry for your lose.
I moved. August 13, 2012 at 06:52 PM
You assumed that risk when you decided to move into the area. The airfield was there long before.
Sergey Ryazantsev August 13, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Christine On which planet YOU are living? The difference between car and aircraft is that aircraft has no breaks, has no muffler and has no converter. It is unsafe, it is noisy and it pollutes the environment (leaded fuel if you do not know). Such anachronism must be forbidden in so densely populated area. I wish to see what you would think if aircraft will crash into your backyard in flames! Would you forgive it on the base that so many people dead by car accidents? Sergey
Richard F. August 14, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Josh, it's not just about crashes. The air traffic is noisy in an area that already has too much sound pollution. The homes may not be as old as the airport but there are many more people living in that area than are convenienced by SMO. 100 years ago that was a great location for an airport, now it is not. Things change.
Richard F. August 14, 2012 at 03:44 PM
"Faulty logic?" The opportunists who bought those houses cheap did so 70 years ago; why are you castigating the people who live there now? And what does the character of the pilot victim have to do with the suitabiity of an aitport's location in a populated area? As to closing freeways because "people die there too" this is not about closing SMO because people die there, it's because it's endangering the people who LIVE there.
Richard F. August 14, 2012 at 03:46 PM
@ James King: "...each SMO plane crash fills me with happiness." Words fail me...
Ben August 15, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Santa Monica airport will probably remain as a vital part of the West Los Angeles landscape. The city of Santa Monica has little or no say as regards the future of the airport as FAA mandates the airport as an asset for Homeland Security purposes. As for the local residents who chose to move next to an existing airport, well, you did know about the airport; As a San Diego resident who flies into metro LA on a regular basis, Santa Monica is an essential destination for many business purposes. Local residents must learn how to work with this essential airport. If you neglected to research Santa Monica airport or it's impact on your personal lifestyle before you moved here than you should just get used to it. As a California resident, I will do everything within my power to keep Santa Monica airport up and running.
Local Pilot August 16, 2012 at 06:42 AM
This accident had nothing directly to do with KSMO. The fact of the matter is that we have many airports distributed throughout Southern California in more or less densely populated areas. If you want to address the safety of general aviation, you would be more on target. The people who live around KSMO don't like the noise. I'm sure it was a well-kept secret at the time they were tricked into buying their homes. Unfortunately, the same people try to address their personal noise complaints indirectly by citing safety concerns with the airport. This is probably the best form of leverage that they think they have. I think you (we) need to ask the question: When was anyone other than a pilot injured or killed by an airplane operating on and in the vicinity of KSMO and is the incidence disproportionately higher than at any other airport in the country? Just a thought.
an interested observer August 16, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Well, you're wrong on a couple of fronts. Flight school operations are down 50% from years past, probably due to the economy. Second, Jet traffic as well as all traffic is down 30% from years past. Not knocking your wanting the airport closed, but manufacturing false statements doesn't help your cause. BTW, One company I deal with in Santa Monica that employs close to 50 people has already told me they will relocate to another airport area if SMO were to close, as their business requires access to a GA airport. So Business's in SM would be impacted as well.
Jim Kett August 29, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Santa Monica is a beautiful city with a beautiful airport. The only air pollution I provided was when I flew in and out of the airport. Each time I stayed several days, spent money, and got around on foot and by bus. Had I driven a car I would have polluted more and added to the traffic and parking problems on the already busy streets. I understand the differences of opinion, but I hope the SMO airport continues well into the future, providing an alternative to southern California's ridiculously busy streets and highways. Hopefully the Santa Monica residents will come up with solutions that take into account the wide range of viewpoints that are being expressed.
ChrisJ August 31, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Ahhh, no. Residents should relocate. When this airport was built, it was sparsely populated around the airfield. People CHOSE to build their houses next to the airport. What were they thinking?
JP October 06, 2012 at 02:33 PM
I think a compromise is good: Why not have airplane traffic actually go over Santa Monica and not the neighboring areas? If SM wants to keep the airport, its residents should face the rewards and consequences. This is completely feasible and actually was done for a short period of time until SM residents voiced complaints and then the traffic moved back over West LA. Also, keeping the airport is fine as long as it's safe. Numerous reports have shown that the runways are not the appropriate length for some of the newer planes that go in and out of that place. Those planes should be forbidden from using the airport. Hopefully those who argue that the airport was there first can agree with that as those large planes were definitely not there when the airport first opened.


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