Otay Mesa

An American Airlines pilot and his son were killed Tuesday afternoon in the crash of a single-engine biplane on Otay Mesa, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department officials said.

Imperial Beach sheriff’s deputies arrived at the crash site two miles north of Brown Field to find Barry Neil Westman, 48, of San Diego, and his son, Barry, 23, of Salt Lake City, dead from the impact of the crash. The two were pinned in the wreckage and officials had to use cutting equipment to dislodge the craft’s fuselage, the coroner’s office said.

According to Charles Hill, a Brown Field air traffic control specialist, the two men had flown their experimental, homemade plane Tuesday morning from Gillespie Field in El Cajon to practice takeoffs and landings at Brown Field.

“They were in a touch-and-go pattern . . . barely touching down before taking off again,” Hill said, adding that it was not known where the two were headed in that last run.


Deputies said an unidentified witness saw the small plane going in a downward spin before it crashed in the remote canyon area about 12:20 p.m. The plane apparently lost power and dropped from an unknown height, Federal Aviation Administration officials said after a preliminary investigation.

The open-cockpit plane was constructed of wood and a paperlike cloth material, sheriff’s officials said.

According to American Airlines officials, the elder Westman had been a pilot with the airline since 1965.

The FAA is still investigating the accident.