Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Mustang Aeronautics Mustang II, N887QR: Fatal accident occurred October 04, 2022 in Jamul, San Diego County, California

National Transportation Safety Board - Accident Report Number: WPR23FA007

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

Aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances. 

Craig H. Cornford

Date: 04-OCT-22
Time: 21:29:00Z
Regis#: N887QR
Aircraft Model: MUSTANG II
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Total Fatal: 1
Flight Crew: 1 Fatal 
Pax: 0
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
Operation: 91

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email witness@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov. You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290.

Craig Cornford

A pilot was killed in a plane crash in the East San Diego County mountains close to Jamul on Tuesday afternoon, according to Cal Fire.

The plane hit the northwest side of Lyons Peak close to Granite Oaks Road and Lyons Peak Road around 12:42 p.m. and the wreckage was found about an hour later in a remote area, according to San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

After the sheriff's department helicopter located the debris, Cal Fire crews had to cut through the brush to access the crash site.

The pilot's body was found among the wreckage, according to Cal Fire Capt. Thomas Shoots. The pilot has not been identified.

A experimental aircraft with tail number N887QR with a pilot and no passengers left Gillespie Field and never returned to the airfield earlier in the afternoon. It was reported missing to Cal Fire, according to Capt. Shoots.

Investigators have yet to identify the crashed plane because of the extensive debris field, Shoots said, so they can't confirm the missing plane is the plane that crashed.

The missing plane was flying 216 mph at 4,400 feet east of Jamul when Flightaware, an online flight-tracking database, lost track of it.

The National Transportation Safety Board tweeted out Tuesday night that they were investigating a crashed Mustang II airplane in Jamul.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board were both notified of the crash, the Sheriff's Department said.


  1. N887QR, Bushby Mustang 2. Flight path matches that of crash location.

    1. Unless it was a different Mustang II, that's the right one:


    2. registered to Craig Houston Cornford age 57

  2. Holy s#!t. I was driving around El Cajon on some business errands and listening to LiveATC for KSEE tower. I heard this guy call up tower and request departure. I heard 'mustang' and was wondering if it was a P-51 so was going to try and watch it take off. Saw it was an experimental (so I didn't watch it take-off) and just listened to him leave the area. Whoa....
    The listed registration owner has a Facebook profile and there are two pictures of the accident aircraft on there. One is from June 2022 and one is from 2020. Looks like he'd been sprucing up the plane as it looked a lot nicer in the 2022 picture.

    RIP Aviator :(

  3. It was a nice day for flying, with airports in the area reporting scattered and broken layers at 1500 ft and 5000 ft. Lyon's Peak is ~3700 ft tall. For most of the flight, the Mustang II had a groundspeed around 130 kts in a very gentle climb. It did a circle near Lyon's Peak, headed northeast, turned around and in a straight, gradual accelerating descent, hit the peak at over 180 kts ground speed.

    Local METARs:

    KSAN 042151Z VRB06KT 10SM BKN015 BKN050 23/17 A2992 RMK AO2 SLP132 BKN015 V SCT T02280172
    KSAN 042119Z 22005KT 10SM BKN015 BKN050 22/17 A2993 RMK AO2 T02220172

    KMYF 042153Z COR 22006KT 10SM FEW013 23/17 A2991 RMK AO2 SLP124 T02330172
    KMYF 042053Z 27005KT 10SM FEW016 23/17 A2993 RMK AO2 SLP130 T02280172 56016

    KSEE 042147Z VRB06KT 10SM SKC 27/18 A2990
    KSEE 042047Z 22008KT 10SM SKC 27/17 A2992

    KSDM 042153Z VRB05KT 10SM FEW012 23/17 A2991 RMK AO2 SLP123 T02330172
    KSDM 042053Z 26008KT 10SM SCT012 23/17 A2993 RMK AO2 SLP131 T02280172 58015


  4. Was pilot IFR ? Last altitude was 4700 ft . Mountain was 3700 ft . Clouds were 1500 broken 5000 overcast

  5. It was totally clear in East county at that time on Tuesday. I had been flying in that general area (Alpine & Viejas) an hour earlier and there was not a cloud in the sky and winds were calm. You're looking at a METAR from Lindbergh which is hardly relevant to Lion's Peak.

  6. Replies
    1. It appears from the flight track data that the pilot (likely the airplane owner) did a pass by Lyon’s Peak, then flew east, before reversing course and flying straight, with a slight descent, into the peak. The weather was good in that area. The plane appeared to be under control until impact. I hope it wasn’t intentional. I’m sure the investigators will consider that possibility. Very sad for the pilot and all those that loved him.

    2. 200 mph straight into a mountain.....hmmmm RIP

  7. Here is a graphic depiction of the flight track. Should be 4 slides.


  8. He was one of the good ones and loved that plane. Always made everyone feel like they were his very best friend. It’s a sadder world without Craig in it.

    1. Craig was a very nice guy, friendly and always happy to talk about what he was doing with his plane. A sad loss indeed.

  9. Did he fly into downdraft on Lee side of mountain like Steve Fossett did? Downdraft rate often exceeds plane’s climb rate . Gliders have been caught in downdrafts too.

    1. Flight track data shows no attempt to avoid Lyon’s Peak. The pilot, possibly the airplane owner, flew directly into the impact site. Sadly, I think this was intentional. If it was in fact Craig Cornford who was piloting the plane and made the choice to end his life, then I hope we all can better assist those who are similarly struggling and help them get on a better path.

  10. Where did this “suicide” line of thinking come from? The witness reported an aircraft in distress, then going down. This type of speculation is disgusting, disrespectful and not called for. Zip it!

    1. The "suicide" line of thinking comes from the flight tracker websites that showed N887QR flying straight into a mountain. The pilot flew about 5 miles directly into a mountain after making a roughly 180 turn. Witness reports are unreliable. What made the witness think the aircraft was in distress? Perhaps flying low level for that area? Rough sounding engine? It would be nice to know such information. The NTSB will release a report at a later date that hopefully sheds some light on this tragedy.

    2. What is more reliable, an eyewitness, or someone pondering over a flight track, after the fact and then drawing unfounded conclusions?
      Let the investigators do their work, talk to people who knew Craig, determine the state of the aircraft and wait for their report. They are the professionals.
      All this arm chair quarter backing from a position of ignorance is sickening and unnecessary.

    3. Sadly, it was suicide. I was not armchair quarterbacking. I investigated it further and got very reliable information concerning things Craig was going through. I feel for Craig, his struggles, and his friends and family. May he rest in peace.

    4. Unless he left a suicide note, there is no way to know for sure. Also, I'm sure the family and friends love that random internet armchair detectives are "investigating it further" and digging up dirt on their beloved rather than leaving that to official investigators whose actual job is to do that accurately and professionally.

    5. "What is more reliable, an eyewitness, or someone pondering over a flight track, after the fact and then drawing unfounded conclusions?"

      An eyewitness for this type of situation is NOT more accurate than objective flight data. The purpose of the blog on this website is to discuss possibilities, trying to figure out what MIGHT have happened. It is normal for concerned people to do this. The NTSB report will be two to three years away. But so far it is pretty clear it was a suicide; there was no effort to avoid the mountain in perfect weather.

      Calling them unfounded conclusions is from an angry emotional person who does not get the big picture.

    6. Anyone claiming suicide didn’t know Craig. Regardless of what he was going through, he wouldn’t have gone out like this. Craig was an amazing person and will be missed by all the new him. The world is a much quieter place with him gone.

  11. Suicide. I know the circumstances but I'm not posting it here. It will come out eventually, wait for it.

    1. I knew Craig pretty well at EAA chp 14, very nice guy, full of good advise for student pilots like me. It is remarkably easy to get distracted messing around in the cockpit of an experimental aircraft doing 200mph. How many people flip their cars when they don't see a subtle turn on a long straight highway? Same thing can happen in an airplane. We are going to miss him, and what a beautiful plane he built! Unless he left a note, I don't by into the suicide theory.

    2. Has anyone listened to the LiveATC recording of 887QR's pilot? He sounded so sad and just not all with it that day. Especially on his call on the ground frequency, which he referred to as "tower."

    3. I don’t buy ‘suicide’ either. Although nothing can be ruled out. Rather than all the speculation and guess work, it is better to wait for the official report.

    4. When suicide happens, it is a complete surprise to most who knew the victim. There are no notes most of the time. Most think of suicide as a very bad thing. Because of the widespread belief that nobody in their right mind would do such a thing, there MUST BE a specific reason why. But that reason is not found most of the time, particularly in young people. Physician assisted suicide is not available in most places (but it is available in California):


      33 states have laws prohibiting assisted suicide
      3 states (AL, MA, and WV) prohibit assisted suicide by common law
      4 states (NV, NC, UT, and WY) have no specific laws regarding assisted suicide, may not recognize common law, or are otherwise unclear on the legality of assisted suicide

      The point is that it is still a hassle to get it done even where it is legal. So what was he to do? Unlike Germanwings, it was HIS plane. A smooth descent into the side of a mountain in perfect weather is a good way to go for a committed pilot. Nobody else got hurt.

      But most of the time survivors simply do not know why.

  12. Any friends of Craig here that can confirm he was battling a terminal illness?

    1. Yes, he battling leukemia for the past decade or so. He underwent chemotherapy and had a horrible time, and mentioned that if he ever needed it again he likely wouldn't do it again. Give it time, this info will come out when investigators look into his recent bloodwork and friends/past family's reports of his mental and physical state.

  13. I flew past Lyon's Peak eastbound about 11:15 am that day and returned back to KSDM at about 13:30. Definitely good weather in the area of the accident, but just a few miles to the SW, KSDM was hazy and scattered or broken.

  14. fly west into a distant settling sun below the horizon of calm seas.