‘Mayday, mayday, mayday!’ Dramatic video, audio show pilot’s perfect land on O.C. street


A student pilot who was practicing flying a fixed-wing, single-engine airplane Friday afternoon sent out a distress call while soaring over the Huntington Beach Pier before making an emergency landing on Hamilton Avenue.

In a tense call to John Wayne Airport’s control tower, the woman flying a Cessna 172 told controllers she needed to land the plane, according to a recording obtained at, a website that streams and archives air traffic control audio.

“Mayday, mayday, mayday!” the pilot said in a strained voice. “Emergency landing.”

“Put it down wherever you can,” the tower told the pilot. “We have help on the way.”


Just before 5 p.m., the 2014 Cessna touched down on Hamilton Avenue between Newland Street and Seaforth Lane. No one was injured, police said.

Radio discussions among tower officials indicate the pilot may have been a student at Orange County Flight Center, a flight school at John Wayne Airport.

“Let the instructor know her student landed off field and they are safe,” according to the recorded audio.

An Orange County Flight Center employee declined to comment when reached by phone Monday.

The plane had taken off from John Wayne Airport and was returning after a practice run when it lost power, according to airport and Federal Aviation Administration officials.

The FAA is investigating what went wrong.

Surveillance video showed a vehicle avoiding the plane as it touched down and sped along Hamilton Avenue, passing several other vehicles as it continued down the street.

The pilot’s name has not been released. FAA records show the plane is registered to JG Capital Holdings LLC, an equity research firm in Los Angeles. JG Capital Holdings could not be reached for comment Monday.


“Amazing job by pilot putting down her plane during an emergency landing on Hamilton Street in HB,” Huntington Beach Police Chief Robert Handy wrote on Twitter.

Fry writes for Times Community News.