Three hurt when plane crashes near El Cajon airport

A small plane carrying three passengers crashed Sunday in a parking lot near Gillespie Field in El Cajon and burst into flames.
(Chadd Cady / San Diego Union Tribune)

A pilot and two passengers were injured Sunday when a single-engine plane crashed into a parking lot near Gillespie Field in El Cajon shortly after taking off, officials said.

The plane, a 1947 North American Navion, had just departed the airport shortly before 10 a.m. when the pilot radioed that he was having engine trouble, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The pilot was attempting to return to the airport when he came up short and crashed in a parking lot off Gillespie Way near Weld Avenue, Heartland Fire and Rescue spokesman Mark Casey said.

“They were probably a few hundred feet shy, as the crow flies,” Casey said. ”They made their best attempt.”


The plane hit a light pole as it was approaching the airport and ended up against a fence between two commercial buildings, where it burst into flames. The charred aircraft was left in pieces after the fire was extinguished.

“The plane was substantially damaged,” Gregor said in an email.

When firefighters arrived, the three occupants were out of the aircraft and the plane was fully engulfed.

All three were taken by ambulance to a trauma hospital. The extent of their injuries was not known, Casey said.


According to FAA records, the plane is owned by an Orange County man, David Alan Roberts, who provided a Huntington Beach address.

Firefighters extinguished in about seven minutes, Casey said. The plane spilled some fuel at the crash site and a hazardous materials team was called out to provide technical advice, he said.

No one was hurt on the ground. The parking lot was adjacent to a Cox cable building and two Cox vehicles were damaged.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the crash.

Kucher writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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