This week the NTSB published the premiminary report on last week’s fatal mid-air collision over San Diego. It doesn’t really reveal much other than to confirm that the two planes took off within a minute of each other, both heading to the same nearby field.
Preliminary information supplied by the Federal Aviation Administration indicates that the Cessna 172RG was issued a takeoff clearance at 1638, and was subsequently handed off to the Southern California Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) facility. The Cessna 182Q had been in the traffic pattern at Gillespie performing touch-and-go landings and takeoffs and departed the traffic pattern at 1638 southbound toward Brown Field. The airplanes collided about 2,300 feet mean sea level (msl) approximately 3 miles south of Gillespie.
At first I had surmised that the 182 simply caught up with the 172 and didn’t see it but an eyewitness report confirms that they collided head-on, instead:
A witness, a professional airline pilot, … noted two airplanes were flying at an estimated 1,800 feet msl. One airplane was flying southwest bound, the other was flying east. The airplanes were in the Gillespie Field class Delta airspace when the airplane flying eastbound impacted the airplane flying southwest bound. The eastbound airplane impacted the right side of the southwest bound airplane.
A terrible accident, no doubt about that, but a reminder that see and avoid applies at all times whether VFR or IFR. Be extra vigilant when working near busy airports. We all know it, just need to make sure we all do it.
Yesterday two planes collided near the airport from which I fly, killing all occupants of both planes. A third plane may have been involved in the accident and is missing from the airport. The accident happened over a fairly dense population area but fortunately no body was seriously injured on the ground. There is a chilling picture in the San Diego Union Tribune article showing one of the planes falling out of the sky in flames. Too early of course for the NTSB report but once again we are reminded to be extra vigilant when operating close to an airport.
Update: Re-reading the articles I’m going to speculate that the 182 caught up with the 172 after take-off and didn’t see it. When I was getting my high performance endorsement in the 182 I was shocked at just how quickly we caught the proceeding traffic and, more alarmingly, how quickly we lost sight of it in the pattern. Of course the media is notoriously crap at reporting the facts, especially in an aviation accident, so it could all change in a day or two.
I’m still looking for work so haven’t been able to justify getting in a plane since Laughlin in December. I’ll go up pretty soon though just for some pattern work, and I have a friend willing to pay half towards a Catalina buffalo burger.
Fortunately there is plenty of aviation to be had just a few miles down the road from me. At least twice a day, the world-famous Blue Angels strut their stuff overhead in rehearsal for this year’s shows. From now until their first show here on March 11 we get treated to some great shows in the sky. There is a spot fairly close to NAF EL Centro which gives a great view and, more importantly, a great feeling as those jets roar above your head.