One Pilot Dies in Mid-Air Collision of 2 Cessnas – Jennifer Gould Reports

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — Investigators are trying to piece together events after two light planes collided in mid-air over Monday afternoon over Ventura County.

The crash sent one plane plummeting into a mountainside, killing the pilot, and forced the other plane to land on a golf course.

Both planes were Cessna single-engine aircraft.

At least one had departed from Santa Monica Airport before crashing about 2 p.m. in the Santa Monica Mountains, according to preliminary information from the FAA.

The other, which had three people on board, belly landed at the Westlake Golf Course.

It, too, may have flown from Santa Monica Airport, officials said.

As rescuers searched the mountain crash site, they spotted a body Monday evening in rugged terrain near Mulholland Highway and Las Virgenes Road, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department said.

Rescue crews have “identified the wreckage of a single-seat airplane with a single occupant” who died, Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said.

Radar information indicated that the Cessna 172s collided about eight miles east northeast of Ventura, according to FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer.

The plane that crashed in the mountains was on an engine-test flight and was heading east when it hit the other aircraft coming from the opposite direction, he said.

The crash sparked a fire that burned about an acre of dry brush before it was knocked down.

In Westlake Village, the other Cessna clipped a tree, which spun the aircraft around 180 degrees, said golfer Aaron Jesse, 47.

L.A. County Fire Department officials and witnesses said the landing gear was still up when that plane came down on the golf course.

It ended up in the middle of the third fairway, resulting in non-life-threatening injuries to the three people on board, Sheriff’s Department officials said.

One person aboard the plane complained of back pain and was taken to a hospital.

Jesse marveled that the pilot seemed to land the plane gently — taking out only four inches of grass and dirt.

“They landed … in the center of the fairway,” Jesse said. “All we heard was a thud and then he made a gentle bounce and slid down the center of the fairway, veering to the left.”

The incident is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA. Officials said the investigation could take months to complete.

-KTLA/Los Angeles Times

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