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Submitted by on 1, April 3, 2011 – 6:06 pm3 Comments
A small plane crashed in Alameda on Sunday. Photo by Michael Singman-Aste.

Updated 8:39 p.m. Sunday, April 3

A man is dead after a small plane he was flying crashed in Alameda, off San Leandro Bay.

Alameda Police Lt. Joe McNiff said the department got a call at about 3:37 p.m. Sunday about a plane down at Doolittle and Harbor Bay Parkway and found the crashed plane stuck in estuary mud off the Bay, adjacent to the Bill Osborne Model Airplane Field. McNiff said Oakland public safety officials pronounced the plane’s sole occupant dead at the scene. That person has not yet been identified.

The plane, which was manufactured in 1947, is registered to a man with a San Mateo post office box address. But authorities wouldn’t say if the pilot was the plane’s owner.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said the single-engine Navion A appears to have crashed shortly after it took off from Oakland International Airport and that the pilot was killed in the crash. He said one of the agency’s inspectors was at the scene.

Gregor said the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the accident and that the latter agency could identify the cause of the accident within a few months.

Witnesses told ABC7 that the plane was having trouble as it took off from the airport and that the engine cut out as it headed for the estuary.

“The airplane (came) around here, probably through the shoreline, the engine cut off and he crashed into the shoreline right there. But I guess he was trying to level it, but there was a family there and I guess he didn’t want to kill them or anything and we rushed over to try to help him out, all of us and my dad as well, and tried to get him out, but the mud was too dense,” witness Christian Ontiveros told ABC7.

The five-seat plane saw some service during the Korean War, and its owner had restored its original Air Force markings and made other upgrades since purchasing the plane in 2007, said Ken Whittall-Scherfee, a fellow Navion enthusiast who is familiar with the plane.

“It was a nice Navion,” Whittall-Scherfee said. “He had spent a bunch of money on it since he bought it.”

Oakland Airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes said this is the first crash fatality she has experienced in her nine years working at the airport.

“These type of things don’t happen in Oakland,” Barnes said.

Michael Singman-Aste contributed reporting to this story.


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