Monday, February 11, 2019

Bellanca 7GCAA Citabria, N11666: Accident occurred February 09, 2019 at Monterey Bay Academy Airport (CA66), Watsonville, Santa Cruz County, California

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Jose, California

Crashed due to unknown circumstances.


https://registry.faa.gov/N11666


Date: 09-FEB-19

Time: 18:39:00Z
Regis#: N11666
Aircraft Make: BELLANCA
Aircraft Model: 7GCAA
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: SERIOUS
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: SUBSTANTIAL
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91
City: WATSONVILLE
State: CALIFORNIA

WATSONVILLE, California - UPDATE (9:01 p.m. 2/10/19):  Crews rushed to the Monterey Bay Academy Airport, Saturday, when a small plane crashed onto its runway. The airstrip is a known training ground for Central Coast pilots.

"I used to land out on that strip in my training. It was just a fun, little grass strip that you'd land and practice your take-offs and landings off into the ocean," said retired pilot, Brad Darbro.

The scenic spot saw disaster over the weekend, leaving both the passenger and pilot in serious condition.

Santa Cruz-area pilot, Chris Gularte, said this specific type of plane, a Citabria, is commonly flown around the Monterey Bay. "People go out with these and have a lot of fun. They're really exciting to fly and they do special things. They'll land on a dirt strip like what the academy had," said Gularte.

Staff at the Watsonville Municipal Airport said the plane that crashed was kept there. The Watsonville Municipal Airport is a hub for smaller aircraft, typically used for recreational purposes. 

Although the cause of the plane's crash is still unknown, some pilots believe Saturday's rain and strong gusts could have been a factor. "They're a really lightweight aircraft and they're really affected by winds. I don't know if that's what caused the crash, but it was kind of a windy, stormy day," said Darbro.

The FAA lists the owner of aircraft as Aptos resident, Eva Twardokens. The San Jose Mercury reported this is the former Olympic skier. Whether or not she was flying her plane, at the time of the crash, is still unknown.

UPDATE (6:55 p.m. 2/9/19):

The two people injured in the plane crash Saturday morning outside Watsonville were in "serious" condition, according to Cal Fire Battalion Chief Mike Harris. The female pilot and male passenger were air transported to Natividad Medical Center in Salinas. Their identities have not been released.

The plane's owner is listed as an Aptos resident, according to FAA registry records. The plane is a Bellanca ​​​​​Citabria -  a fixed-wing single engine plane. 

Ian Gregor, a spokesperson for the FAA says the plane crashed "under unknown circumstances while landing"  at the Monterey Bay Academy Airport.

Harris said the plane's nose and left side were damaged when it ended on the runway next to a farm field. Firefighters cut off the right wing while trying to pull the pilot and passenger from the fuselage.

The NTSB is leading the investigation. The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's office was the immediate responding agency, and was joined by Cal Fire, Santa Cruz Fire, Watsonville Fire, Aptos/La Selva Fire, and AMR Paramedics. 

ORIGINAL REPORT: 

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office reports that there has been a plane crash outside Watsonville off San Andreas Road.

The plane crashed on the property of Monterey Bay Academy shortly after taking off from the Watsonville Airport.

Two people were injured in the crash and taken to the hospital, but the cause is still under investigation.

Several local fire districts responded to the scene, but the Sheriff's Office has taken over the scene while they wait for the FAA to arrive.

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