A pilot whose small plane crashed into a home in Lomita remained in critical condition Friday at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center near Torrance, officials said.
The Federal Aviation Administration said Jerry Elvin Hoke, a veteran commercial pilot and certified flight instructor at Zamperini Field, the municipal airport in Torrance, was preparing to land there Thursday when he radioed that he was running low on fuel.
About 5:30 p.m., the single-engine Cessna 210 clipped power lines, tore open the roof of a house and crashed upside-down in a backyard in the 25300 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, catching on fire.
Witnesses extinguished the fire, and two neighbors pulled Hoke out. He was alone in the plane.
He suffered burns on his arms and legs and multiple cuts.
A fire in the house was quickly extinguished, and a 90-year-old woman in the home escaped injury.
The downed power lines blacked out the neighborhood for several hours.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators focused Friday on the possibility that the plane, which was on a flight from John Wayne Airport in Orange County to Zamperini Field, had run out of fuel.
Federal regulations require pilots to determine their fuel supplies before taking off, checking the gas gauges and removing gas caps to physically examine the levels in fuel tanks. Pilots are supposed to carry enough reserve fuel to fly for at least 30 minutes more after reaching their destinations.
“There is absolutely no excuse for running out of fuel,” said Barry Schiff, a retired airline pilot and aviation safety consultant.