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Pilot killed in plane crash that set an Upland home on fire

The pilot of a single-engine plane flying to a small airport in San Bernardino County was killed Thursday morning when his aircraft crashed into a home as it neared its destination, authorities said. Two people in the home were unharmed.

It was not clear what caused the 2007 fixed-wing Cirrus SR-22 to plummet into the single-story home in the 1200 block of Overland Court near Mountain Avenue in Upland about 11 a.m. The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash, authorities said.

For the record:
6:47 PM, Nov. 07, 2019 An earlier version of this story said a pilot flying a World War II-era German-made plane crashed near Cable Airport in May. The plane was a replica of the vintage aircraft.

The aircraft departed from Zamperini Field in Torrance and had been in the air for about 19 minutes before it crashed. It had been heading to Cable Airport, a small independently owned airport less than two miles from the neighborhood where the plane went down, according to flight records.

The plane is registered to a man in Palos Verdes Estates, according to public records. The body of the pilot had not been removed from the wreckage by midafternoon, and he has not been identified.

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The section of the home where the plane went down was engulfed in flames when fire crews arrived at the scene. The force of the crash caused a portion of the home’s roof to collapse. A man and his young son inside the house were able to escape the flames, Upland Police Capt. Marcelo Blanco said.

San Bernardino County firefighter and medic David Pingree said it was “incredibly lucky” for neighbors that the plane went down as it did. The aircraft is equipped with an emergency parachute system that’s designed to safely lower the aircraft to the ground after it is deployed, according to the manufacturer. Video from the scene showed a large parachute draped over a palm tree near the home.

Neighbor Dan Millus, 65, was settling in to take a nap in his bedroom when he heard a massive boom outside.

“I went running outside and the house kitty-corner to the east of me was completely engulfed in flames,” he said. “I’m looking at the house now, and I don’t see any remnants of a plane or anything. The fire was pretty intense.”

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One of Millus’ neighbors told him they saw the plane “choke up” and descend nose down into the house. Millus said he often hears planes from his home because he’s close to two airports, but he’s never been overly concerned about the possibility of a crash.

“Honestly, I’d never really given it much thought,” he said. “About 10 years ago, we had a plane sputter and hit a garage in another part of the neighborhood, but that was 10 years ago.”

Thursday’s crash is at least the third plane crash near Cable Airport this year. In May, a pilot flying a replica of a World War II-era German-made plane was injured after setting down in a field near the airport. A month later, three people suffered injuries when a small-engine plane crash-landed next to the Upland Public Works Services Department building, near the airport.

Cable Airport dubs itself the “world’s largest, family-owned public-use airport” on its website.

Times staff writer Alejandra Reyes-Velarde contributed to this report.


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