The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office has not yet released the identities of two men who were killed when a small airplane crashed into the runway at Santa Monica Airport shortly after takeoff Wednesday, January 28th.
Coroner spokesman Ed Winter said the names have not been released pending identification of dental records and notification of next of kin, but some friends of the victims have identified the men on Internet postings as Paulo Emanuele and Martin Schaedel. Emanuele, believed to be in his 40s, was listed as the general manager of the aviation Web site airliners.net/, and Schaedel, believed to be in his early 20s, identified himself on the blog hellomartin.com/ as a former partner in a venture capital company.
The airliners.net posting reported that Emanuele’s plane took off from Santa Monica Airport at about 5 p.m. and lost power before crashing.
“He will be remembered for his passion, his kindness and his love for life,” said the Web site posting, which had hundreds of comments. “Paulo was an amazing pilot, an amazing photographer, an amazing friend and an amazing father. He will be deeply missed.”
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) spokesman Patrick Jones said the agency is investigating the airplane crash and was expected to release a preliminary report in the week following the accident. Jones confirmed that the red single-engine Marchetti F260 apparently lost engine power shortly after takeoff from Santa Monica Airport.
Witnesses reported that the plane got up to 400 feet in the air when the pilot attempted to return to the airport, but the plane crashed about 1,000 feet from the west end of the runway and caught fire, killing both people on board, Jones said. No one on the ground was injured.
The pilot and passenger had intended to go out for a flight around sunset and return to the airport, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said. The plane was based out of Santa Monica Airport, said Bob Trimborn, airport manager.
“It was a catastrophic accident and two people lost their lives,” Trimborn said.
Santa Monica firefighters quickly responded to the crash site and extinguished the flames. The airport was closed following the crash until 7 a.m. Thursday, January 29th.
Trimborn called the accident a “very rare occurrence,” saying only one other fatal plane crash has occurred at the airport in the last 12 years.
“We operate one of the safest airports in the U.S.,” he said. “Everything is maintained in the highest standards to ensure safety.”
Airport neighbors said that although two people were killed in the crash, they were relieved that no one on the ground was injured.
“We’re thankful the accident was confined to the airport property,” Santa Monica resident and Friends of Sunset Park board member Brian Bland said.
Mar Vista Community Council first vice chair Albert Olson added, “The first thing you think of after hearing this is although it’s sad there were two fatalities, it’s fortunate it was a small plane rather than a jet because things could’ve been much different.”
Airport neighbors have backed a City of Santa Monica ordinance banning the fastest-type of jets from using the airport, citing the potential for over-runs into the nearby neighbor-
hoods. The FAA has challenged the legality of the ordinance, arguing that the city does not have the authority to ban certain jets from using its airport.
Bland said that while neighbors are not in a constant state of anxiety regarding potential airplane crashes, any accident at the airport re-emphasizes their call to prevent the fastest jets from using the airport.
“We understand that an airport, just like a busy street, is going to inevitably have some mishaps, but we have a sincere concern about the type of high-speed jets that the airport was never designed to accommodate,” Bland said.