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Jet Ends Up in a Bad Lie

A corporate jet with a hydraulic system failure slammed onto a runway at Van Nuys Airport at 150 m.p.h. Tuesday morning and hurtled 8,000 feet before crashing through a fence, clipping the tops of two cars and skidding to a stop on a golf course, authorities said.

Four people, including the pilot and co-pilot, and two people whose cars were hit by the aircraft, suffered only minor injuries, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Vince Marzo said.

Pilot Jim Mitchell, 33, of Tucson, Ariz., said the twin-engine Rockwell International AC-21 Jet Commander was en route to Van Nuys from Tucson when the hydraulic control system suddenly failed. “There were no emergency controls, no directional controls . . . and no brakes,” Mitchell said. “I’m just glad to be alive. It’s a miracle.”

The crippled plane sped down the runway and through a chain link fence separating the runway from Vanowen Street, Marzo said. Before hitting another fence at the edge of the Van Nuys Golf Course across the street, the plane hit the tops of two vehicles traveling on Vanowen, he said.

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The co-pilot, whose name was not released, suffered neck and back injuries and was listed in good condition at Northridge Medical Center.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

Marzo said Mitchell radioed the control tower that he was having problems. After circling, he decided to attempt a landing.


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