New video shows fiery explosion as small plane crashes on 405 Freeway in Santa Ana


Surveillance footage of a plane that crashed on the 405 Freeway near John Wayne Airport in June.

New video released Friday by John Wayne Airport shows the exact moment a small twin-engine plane crashed on the 405 Freeway in Santa Ana in June and burst into a fireball.

The video from a security camera at an airport parking lot shows the white Cessna 310 barreling toward the freeway and crashing onto the pavement on the morning of June 30.

As the aircraft smashes into the freeway and narrowly avoids hitting dozens of vehicles traveling on both sides of the interstate, a flash can be seen, followed by a large ball of fire.

Video from a second airport camera shows the blaze transforming into a mushroom cloud of black smoke.

The pilot, Francis Pisano, and his wife, Janan, survived the crash after an off-duty fire captain from Avalon pulled from them the wreckage.

The couple took off from the airport about 9:35 a.m. when the aircraft suddenly lost right engine power, according to a preliminary accident report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

“Shortly after takeoff, over the departure end of the runway, the pilot announced a mayday and entered the right traffic pattern for the runway,” the report said.

In a frantic call to the airport’s control tower, Pisano told controllers, “Hey, we got a mayday! We got a mayday!”

The tower told Pisano he was cleared to land but then told him, “Your gear appears to be up.”

“Yeah, I know. We’re still trying to get a little altitude. I lost my right engine,” Pisano said, according to a recording obtained at, a website that streams and archives air traffic control audio.

The aircraft, according to the report, then turned right for the runway. The flight was last tracked near the crash site.

A witness in a car traveling north on the freeway recorded video of the sequence of events that followed. The video showed the aircraft, registered to Twin Props 87297, in a 45-degree bank as it descended toward the freeway from the north, according to the NTSB.

As the plane crossed over the freeway, the NTSB said, it was about 20 feet above ground level.

The aircraft crashed into the center median divider and opposing lane, and exploded into flames.

The debris field was about 150 feet long and crossed onto both sides of the freeway, according to the report. At least four vehicles were slightly damaged, but no motorists were injured, authorities said.

At a new conference after the collision, Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Larry Kurtz said a plane crash on a busy freeway could have been much worse.

“The fact a plane can crash-land on the freeway and only strike one vehicle is extraordinary,” he said.

Twitter: VeronicaRochaLA


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