Magana Cathcart & McCarthy

Two Southern California Plane Crashes in Recent Weeks

The big plane crash in field

Two separate plane crashes in Southern California in recent weeks, both attributed to engine failure, left one man seriously injured, and one antique World War II-era bomber out of commission.

On Friday, May 6, 2016, an Antonov A-2 biplane crashed in a small field near Lankershim Elementary School in San Bernardino County. The Russian-manufactured aircraft known as “Big Panda” had been a popular presence at local air shows, and the enormous yellow plane was impossible to miss when it took to the sky. The pilot, Cliff Heathcoat, said that the flight had been unremarkable until the plane had nearly reached the airport, when the engine failed. “I thought we had the airport made,” Heathcoat said. “But when we got closer, it was obvious we weren’t going to make it.” Despite the fact that the neighborhood surrounding the airport is a busy residential region, Heathcoat managed to locate a small empty field where he was able to put the plane down. As the plane descended, it collided with power lines, which pulled the nose of the plane down. The plane skipped along on its nose after catching on its landing gear, rose up on the nose, and flipped onto its back, where it came to rest. Heathcoat, along with his co-pilot, were the only passengers on the plane, and both managed to walk away uninjured. The downed power lines appeared to have caused a power outage for some 3,000 customers, including the nearby elementary school, which also lost phone service. No students from the school were injured in the crash.

On Sunday, May 8, a small single-engine Piper PA-28 was forced to make an emergency landing on the roof of a commercial building in LaVerne. The plane was headed for a landing in Brackett Field when the pilot reportedly lost engine power which he was unable to regain. Rather than land in a residential area, the pilot elected to land in the corporate park, believing that he might have been able to land on the roof of a large building. Shortly after the plane touched down, it made an abrupt stop, coming upright, and causing the engine to become embedded in the roof. The pilot was airlifted to a local hospital with moderate injuries.

Airplane accidents may be attributable to many different factors, making the determination of liability a complicated legal and factual question. If you have been injured in an aviation accident in Southern California, seek the counsel of attorneys who understand the complexities of aviation litigation, and contact Los Angeles plane accident law firm Magaña, Cathcart & McCarthy for a free consultation, at 310-553-6630.

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