Investigators Probe Plane Crash in Pacoima

The pilot and passenger were able to get out of the plane on their own, but investigators aren't sure what caused the plane to crash

By Andrew Lopez and Kate Larsen
|  Monday, Dec 30, 2013  |  Updated 10:16 AM PDT
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A small airplane took down power lines as it crashed into a used car lot in Pacoima just across the street from Whiteman Airport. Investigators were still searching for clues as to how to crash happened, but were relieved to say the pilots made it out alive on a day with such high winds. Kate Larsen reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013.

A small airplane took down power lines as it crashed into a used car lot in Pacoima just across the street from Whiteman Airport. Investigators were still searching for clues as to how to crash happened, but were relieved to say the pilots made it out alive on a day with such high winds. Kate Larsen reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013.

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Two people were hurt after a small plane struck a building and crashed Sunday afternoon while coming in for a landing in Pacoima, officials said.

The pilot of a Cessna 172 attempted to execute a missed approach landing at Whiteman Airport before crashing into a used car lot around 12:55 p.m., said Ian Gregor, a spokesman with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Two men in their mid-30s, both pilots, were able to get out of the aircraft on their own, Gregor said. They were taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

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The plane crashed into a used car lot on San Fernando Boulevard, just across from the airport.

"The winds were reported pretty high, and the pilots did not report a mechanical malfunction with the aircraft," said Patrick Jones of the National Transportation Safety Board.

Witnesses described the plane as shooting up like a kite during its approach to the airport runway as it flew sideways into the power pole.

"I see lots of planes every day, but nothing like this," Mexico Lindo Auto Sales employee and witness Eldio Morales said.

"We were at work and all we heard was a loud boom," employee Hernando Perez said. "Everybody was getting scared, so we go outside, and generators were exploding and sparks were going off everywhere. You could see some guy crawl out of a small airplane."

Seven cars in the lot were damaged, but 10 people inside the business during the crash were not harmed.

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"Everything that you can hit to slow down before the sudden stop is a benefit," Jones said.

The plane took down power lines when it went down, and between 2,000 and 3,000 customers were without power for hours Sunday afternoon, said Kim Hughes with the Los Angeles Department of Power and Water. 

All affected customers live near the airport, Hughes said. 

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the cause of the accident, Gregor said.

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