City officials are seeking the identity of the pilot of a small,
red plane that flew over Laguna Beach on Monday -- but not much over.
“Our home sits about 250 to 300 feet above sea level and that
aircraft was flying at my eye level, well below the regulation
altitude,” said Mayor Wayne Baglin.
He likened the pilot to a hot-rodder with little concern for the
safety of others.
“At one point, I was hoping the pilot would crash out over the
ocean,” Baglin said. “One little mistake or a carburetor cough and we
would have had a disaster.”
The plane flew low over the beaches and turned cartwheels over
Woods Cove between 5 and 5:30 p.m. and then skedaddled with one wing
pointed directly down and the other one up, observers said. Some said
the pilot made a getaway north, some said to the south -- a worrisome
thought with San Onofre just down the road apiece.
Some of the acrobatics were almost directly over the home of
Councilwoman Toni Iseman, who has campaigned for restrictions on
banner-planes in the skies.
Iseman went on the warpath.
“I called Don Segner, a former Federal Aviation Administration
official in the Reagan administration; I called Ken Frank, who was at
Main Beach; I called Wayne Baglin; I tried to call the John Wayne
Airport tower, but I couldn’t get a number; and I called the Orange
County Sheriff’s office to try to get airports alerted for the plane
and was told it was an FAA issue,” Iseman said.
She also contacted the offices of California Democratic Sens.
Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, as well as the FAA.
“On Tuesday, I found out that the problem is that the FAA does not
have the power to regulate general aviation,” Iseman said. “Transfers
of ownership are not required to be registered, nor a description. So
ownership of that little red plane with the little white tip cannot
be identified unless we have a photograph of the plane with its
Sales of cars, boats, motorcycles and homes are all better
tracked, a disquieting thought for residents concerned with homeland
Iseman photographed the plane, but she was facing into the sun and
fears she will only get silhouettes. She hopes that other
photographers might have had a better angle. Anyone who took still
pictures or video of the plane or who has information about the
pilot’s identify is asked to contact the City Manager’s office,
“If this happens again, get out your cameras and try to get the
number of the plane,” Iseman said.
Baglin said if the FAA really doesn’t keep better account of the
private planes, the City Council should put the matter on a meeting
“I would like to see our staff recommend a program to enforce
flight violations,” Baglin said. “This is getting worse, not better,
and I think we need to make violation reports. If the offense
originates here, we need to document the incident and try to identify
All elected officials, including Rep. Chris Cox, should be
notified, he added.
“I think this is a coastal issue,” Baglin said.
Iseman is on record against the flights of planes trailing banners
at low altitudes just off the city’s beaches, partially because of
the banner content, which sometimes advertises alcohol, and because
of the noise. She also would like to see curbs on the cigarette boats
that cruise the coast.
However, Monday’s incident was just plain scary, she said.
“I have never see a plane that low,” Iseman said. “That pilot
could have killed a thousand people at Main Beach or destroyed
hundreds of homes.”