Small Plane Crashes Near Santa Monica Airport

Late Monday night, workers began removing the wreckage of a small plane that crashed into a house in Santa Monica.

The plane crashed at 2:29 p.m. near 21st and Navy streets, about one-third of a mile west of the runway at Santa Monica Airport.  Witnesses said the pilot appeared to have trouble controlling the aircraft.

The NTSB says the pilot was a student with 40 hours of flying experience at Justice Aviation at Santa Monica Airport.  He was attempting to fly to Santa Barbara when he decided to come back.

"We were right in front of it," said Luis Espana. "We saw the plane wobbling… it hit a tree then it just went right in the house."

The force of the crash bent the aircraft in half and ripped off the wings.  But, a cinder block wall helped absorb a lot of the energy of the crash, said Robert Trimborn, Director of the Santa Monica Airport.

Espana and some painters who had been working on the house, helped the pilot escape the mangled wreckage. Using a garden hose, they were able to extinguish a small fire that erupted.

"We had to help the guy get out of the plane. It was just unbelievable. We couldn't believe what was happening in front of our eyes," Espana said.

Espana captured the rescue on his mobile phone (embedded, above).

The pilot, whose identity was not released, suffered a broken leg and was transported to a local hospital. Nobody was inside the house at the time and nobody on the ground was injured.

"He's OK. He's alive. That's the good thing that happened," said Espana.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known. The NTSB and FAA were investigating.

The crash caught the attention of the Venice Neighborhood Council.  Members said they'll be lobbying lawmakers to stop so many student pilots from training at the airport.

“If they don’t limit the flyovers of this very densely populated area, there will be more accidents," Laura Silagi said.

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