Yesterday afternoon, two small personal planes shockingly collided above the Watsonville Airport, near Santa Cruz, California. This small airport primarily stores recreational planes, with authorities reporting that the two planes were a single-engine Cessna 152 and a twin-engine Cessna 340. The three people on board both of the planes were killed, with the two pilots attempting to land at the Watsonville airport before fatally crashing into one another.
The devastating last words of these pilots, recorded on their radios, were disclosed to Newsweek, with the pilot of the smaller plane saying, “Yeah, I see you’re behind me,” before the other responded, “I’m gonna go around then because you’re coming at me pretty quick, man.” The identities of the three casualties have not been released, but reports shared that a pet on board was also killed. While smaller airports like the one in Watsonville typically have an “uncontrolled airfield,” which means that they do not have control towers to ensure landing safety like all major airports does, Aviation expert Mike McCarron shared with NBC Bay Area that these types of crashes are incredibly rare.
Kron4 news reports that “one plane crashed into one of the airport’s hangar buildings. A witness sent a video to KRON4 showing flames burning and black smoke rising from the plane,” while “The second plane crashed in a field at the intersection of Buena Vista Drive and Calabasas Road next to a neighborhood.” Luckily, no one on the ground was injured, and the fire from the planes did not spread to any nearby houses, which could have exacerbated the devastation. Nearby residents expressed the loud explosion sound that was heard in the neighborhood, with onlooker Cam Primavera saying, “I saw in a blink of an eye, another plane there, and they hit each other. And it was almost as if the faster plane had gone right through, the smaller plane.”
The exact reasoning for the crash is currently being investigated, but it seems like an extremely unfortunate instance of miscommunication between the two pilots. Home security footage from the nearby neighborhood is being closely examined by the National Transportation Safety Board in order to prevent tragic accidents like this from happening again.