Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Piper PA-32-300 Cherokee Six E, N2843T: Accident occurred August 24, 2021 in Del Mar, San Diego County, California

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Diego, California

Location: Del Mar, California 
Accident Number: WPR21LA326
Date and Time: August 24, 2021, 12:00 Local
Registration: N2843T
Aircraft: Piper PA-32-300 
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On August 24, 2021, about 1200 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA-32-300 airplane, N2843T, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Del Mar, California. The flight instructor and private pilot were not injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot reported that the airplane had just completed an annual inspection and he was flying it back to its home base. A departure on runway heading to a level off about 1,500 ft mean sea level (msl) was accomplished. Once past the class B airspace floor of 1,800 ft msl, the pilot began a slow climb, when the engine began to surge. The pilot stated that it sounded like “the throttle was cycling between open and closed.” The pilot declared an emergency, ensured that the auxiliary fuel pump was on, and turned towards a racetrack. He further stated that there was about 60 gallons of fuel on board and all electrical power was lost at this time.

The pilot flew into a downwind for the racetrack but determined that he could not safety land there. Therefore, he elected to land on Interstate highway I-5. Spotting a gap between cars, the pilot force landed the airplane on the interstate. During the landing sequence, the airplane struck several vehicles which caused substantial damage to its wings. The airplane came to rest angled towards the interstate median barrier.

The airplane was recovered to a secure facility for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N2843T
Model/Series: PA-32-300
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
Operator: On file 
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KSAN,28 ft msl 
Observation Time: 11:51 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 5 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 25°C /16°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 9 knots / , 300°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.95 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Del Mar, CA 
Destination: Carlsbad, CA (CRQ)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 32.9725,-117.25027 (est)

SOLANA BEACH, Calif. — Traffic is moving again after a single-engine plane landed on Interstate 5 Tuesday afternoon.

The pilot of a light plane made an emergency landing Tuesday on Interstate 5 near the Del Mar Fairgrounds, injuring several occupants of vehicles on the ground and forcing a closure of a stretch of the freeway on both sides as the plane hung over the center median.

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The pilot tried to land the Piper PA-32 in a nearby field but couldn't and touched down on the southbound side of the freeway, south of Via de la Valle in the North City area shortly after noon, according to the California Highway Patrol and Federal Aviation Administration.

The aircraft "clipped" several vehicles before rolling to a stop against a center-divider wall, said Jose Ysea, a spokesman for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. 

The plane was removed around 4p.m. CHP says several occupants of the damaged cars were transported to a hospital for treatment of apparently minor injuries, including superficial cuts from shattered glass. There were no immediate reports of injuries to anyone else.

CHP says shortly after taking off from Montgomery Field the pilot and passenger noticed the plane was having mechanical problems.

"He tried to land the plane in a nearby field but was unable to and landed in south bound lanes of Interstate 5," said Salvador Castro, CHP.

Dane and Sarah Tribett were visiting from Austin for their anniversary when they were hit by the plane. 

"I was just like what the heck what happened and I looked over to make sure he was ok," said Tribett.

CHP says the pilot and the passenger walked away from the crash unharmed. They declined to comment to News 8. 

Authorities shut down the southbound side of the freeway due to the emergency. Aviation fuel spilled and the freeway will be closed for hours. Jet fuel spilled and the freeway will be closed for hours. 

All southbound lanes of the freeway in the area and part of the northbound side remained blocked off into the mid-afternoon due to the emergency. The closures were expected to last into late-afternoon rush hour, Caltrans advised. 

The aircraft took off from Montgomery and landed on Interstate 5 shortly after 12 p.m.

Video images from the scene showed that one of the vehicles struck by the plane, a white sedan, sustained a shattered rear window in the impact, and another, an SUV, was left with a torn-off piece of the aircraft protruding from its back end. The crash-landing left most of the right wing of the airplane sheared off.

Another car had the back window of their rental car smashed during the landing. The individual in the car said that the items in the car seemed to have jet fuel on them. 

Tribett says fortunately no one was seriously injured.

"I feel like angels were definitely watching over us today and we felt really blessed and grateful," said Tribett. 


  1. Well... based on the photo of the prop above they definitely did not have power.

    The article states jet fuel spilled. A Cherokee 6 operates on avgas, not jet fuel. If they DID actually smell jet fuel we know the reason for the loss of power.

    1. Article corrected to read “aviation fuel.” Was not Jet-A.

      Excellent work by the pilot to set the airplane down.

  2. If this was indeed a miss-fuel, this is a continued disturbing trend that does not seem to be rectifying itself.

  3. "In general, aircraft control deficiency, angle of attack exceeded, airspeed not attained/maintained, decision making mistake, and fuel system failure were identified as primary leading causes for GA aircraft takeoff accidents."


    1. This statement makes no sense and is not helpful or constructive in regards to this accident in any way. Commenting on airspeed and and angle of attacks when the pilot in command showed tremendous situational awareness and good adm in this emergency? Hats off to this pilot during this emergency.

  4. The main thing above all, no one was killed. Risky to set a plane down on a busy interstate such as I5 where this happened, but when faced with the alternatives the pilot made the best choice. My respects for him, and hopefully all will be covered by insurance.


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