Pilot issues mayday before plane crash

By MICHAEL

BALSAMO

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — The pilot of a small twin-engine plane that dropped out of the sky and exploded in flames on a busy freeway near a Southern California airport Friday morning, injuring the two people aboard, declared a mayday and told air traffic controllers he had lost an engine before the crash.

The Cessna 310 aircraft crashed on Interstate 405, just short of a runway at John Wayne Airport in Costa Mesa around 9:30 a.m., said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The pilot declared an emergency shortly after taking off from the airport and was trying to return when the crash occurred, Gregor said.

“Hey, we got a mayday!” the pilot told air traffic controllers before the crash. “Mayday, mayday … I’m trying to make it back to the airport.”

The exchange was captured on a recording of air traffic controller communications, posted on the website LiveATC.net.

After an air traffic controller tells the pilot a gear of the plane appears to be up, the pilot says he’s trying to gain altitude. “I lost my right engine,” he said.

The two people who were aboard the plane, a man and a woman in their 50s and 60, were alive when they were pulled from the fiery wreckage and were taken to a hospital with traumatic injuries, Orange County Fire Capt. Larry Kurtz said.

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