A Westchester man who flew charity flights for a nonprofit organization died when his Cessna 210 single-engine plane crashed into a West Los Angeles neighborhood Aug. 10.
The pilot, identified by friends as Sean McMillan, was trying to return to Santa Monica Airport before the fatal accident.
“The pilot of a single-engine Cessna 210 declared an emergency for unknown reasons at approximately 6:10 p.m. before crashing in a residential neighborhood about three miles northeast of Santa Monica Airport,” Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor told The Argonaut. “The pilot, who was the only person on board the plane, was killed.”
Los Angeles firefighters responded to the accident following several 9-1-1 calls. According to a fire department spokesman, the plane appeared to have struck the pavement along the northwest corner of Glendon and Mississippi avenues but did not damage any buildings or residences.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board, which is responsible for civil transportation accidents, will investigate the crash, Gregor said. The transportation board is the lead investigative agency.
McMillan is the third pilot to be involved in an accident with aircraft that took off from Santa Monica Airport in as many years. On July 1, 2010, Robert Davenport was killed when his single-engine Cessna 152 crashed at Penmar Golf Course in Venice.
Last year on Aug. 29, a Cessna 172 airplane crashed into the backyard of a home near 21st and Navy streets in Santa Monica, approximately a half mile from the airfield’s runway. The pilot survived the crash.
McMillan worked at Greenberg/Traurig, a Century City law firm. According to the firm’s website, McMillan worked on technology and intellectual property cases, as well as general corporate matters, including mergers and acquisitions.
The firm’s co-manager of shareholders, Thomas Loo, said McMillan practiced for 11 years at the firm.
Loo, who knew McMillan for 40 years, worked with him previously at a Santa Monica firm before they came to Greenberg/Traurig. McMillan was also a member of the Rotary Club of Santa Monica, along with Loo.
“This came as a great surprise for those of us who knew him well,” Loo said. “We had common friends who flew out of Santa Monica Airport.”
Charlie Fredricy, McMillan’s neighbor in Westchester, remembered his friend fondly when The Argonaut contacted him days after the crash. “I knew Sean for 20 years and everyone should know that he was a very benevolent man,” Fredricy said.
“This leaves a very big hole in my life.”
Fredricy said their families often spent Christmas holidays together and McMillan doted on his three sons, nieces and nephews.
“I tore my Achilles tendon in 1988, and Sean was right there offering to help me with anything I needed,” he recalled.
In his spare time McMillan flew for Angel Flight West, a nonprofit organization that provides free, non-emergency air travel for children and adults with serious medical conditions and has its office at Santa Monica Airport.
“He flew approximately 50 missions for us,” said Angel Flight West Associate Executive Director Cheri Cimmarrusti.
McMillan’s flights included transporting children to a camp for burn survivors, a woman who was stricken with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, lung cancer patients and children with immune deficiency order.
Fredricy would like to know what caused the accident and said he would be surprised if it were due to pilot error.
“(McMillan) was very meticulous about his airplane and about everything he did,” he said.
In addition to flying volunteer missions, McMillan was responsible for creating another program affiliated with Angel Flight called Earth Angel, which provides medical patients with automobile transportation to their physical therapy or hospital, Cimmarrusti said.
“Patients are responsible for arranging their own ground transportation after we fly them into the airport,” she explained. “(McMillan) helped them get to their destination with the Earth Angel program.”
Fredricy said he would ask Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl’s office to recognize McMillan for his charitable contributions. Rosendahl represents Westchester.
“He was a real hero,” Fredricy said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if he put his plane down where he did to avoid hitting a house or a building.”
National Transportation Safety Board investigators usually post a basic preliminary report on the agency’s website, www.ntsb.gov, within a week or two of an accident. “However, it typically takes months to determine a probable cause for accidents,” Gregor said. ¤