A single-engine airplane taking off from Meadowlark Airport in Huntington Beach lost power and crashed into an office building Saturday, but the four people aboard the craft suffered only minor injuries, probably because the pilot purposefully flew the Cessna into a second-floor window, police said.
“If it had been a solid wall, we’d be dead,” said passenger William Perry White of Huntington Beach as he left to take his wife, Roseann, also a passenger, to Humana Hospital in Huntington Beach, where both were treated and released.
The pilot, James Parr, 45, of Huntington Beach, did “an exceptional job” of maneuvering the plane into the roughly 8-by-15-foot window, thus avoiding a more serious accident, according to a flight instructor at Ray-Jean Bull Aviation, which owns and rented the plane.
Parr told police he “tried to fly it through the window to minimize injuries,” Sgt. Michael Biggs said.
3rd Passenger Cut
Parr suffered a cut on his forehead and was taken by ambulance to Humana Hospital, where he also was treated and released. The third passenger was Parr’s son, Doug, 16, who appeared to have suffered cuts on his knees.
Passers-by rushed to the scene after hearing the crash, which occurred shortly after 11 a.m., and helped the four out of the plane and the building, Biggs said. “They all walked out on their own power,” he said.
Although the plane had two full tanks of fuel, there was no fire, Biggs said.
The Cessna 172 crashed into the corporate offices of Renal Specialties Inc., which operates a kidney dialysis training center. The offices are in a complex of four two-story wood-and-glass buildings that lie directly under the take-off pattern of the small, private airport.
Like in a Movie
Only the tail and folded-back wings of the four-seater white plane were visible from outside the building, the fuselage neatly tucked inside. “It looks like something out of Universal Studios,” said one policeman at the scene.
There was no estimate of damage, but Biggs said the plane “wiped out” at least two walls inside the building. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.
White, 28, said he and his wife “were just going for a ride.”
“We took off and the next thing, we crashed,” White said. “There was no warning.” He said he did not hear the engine sputter. “It was like he (the pilot) turned the volume off,” he said.
The crash has revived long-standing concerns about the safety of the busy little airport, Huntington Beach Mayor Ruth Bailey said Saturday.
“You know the runway is just not long enough,” she said, adding that Meadowlark Airport’s safety will be discussed Monday night at the City Council’s regular meeting with the city Airport Commission.