Friday, February 5, 2016

Beech M35 Bonanza, N9872R and Bellanca 8KCAB Super Decathalon, N5057G: Fatal accident occurred February 05, 2016 off the coast near San Pedro, California

Martin Clement: http://registry.faa.gov/N9872R

Mary Falstrom: http://registry.faa.gov/N5057G 



NTSB Identification: WPR16FA065A 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, February 05, 2016 in San Pedro, CA
Aircraft: BEECH M35, registration: N9872R
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

NTSB Identification: WPR16FA065B
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, February 05, 2016 in San Pedro, CA
Aircraft: BELLANCA 8KCAB, registration: N5057G
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On February 5, 2016, about 1500 Pacific standard time, a single-engine Beech M35, N9872R, and a single engine Bellanca 8KCAB, N5057G, were substantially damaged when they collided in mid-air over the Los Angeles Harbor about 2 miles south of Angels Gate Lighthouse, San Pedro, California. The Beech was owned and operated by the private pilot. Both the private pilot and a certified flight instructor (CFI) onboard were fatally injured. The Bellanca was owned and operated by the private pilot, the sole occupant, and was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. Both flights were operated in accordance with 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, and no flight plans had been filed. The Beech departed Camarillo Airport (CMA), Camarillo, California, at an unknown time, and was destined for Zamperini Field Airport (TOA), Torrance, California. The Bellanca departed TOA about 1430 for a local area flight.


Both airplanes impacted the water and sank. Multiple search and rescue agencies responded to area, and the wreckage of the Beech was located and recovered by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Special Enforcement Bureau's Dive Team on February 7, 2016. They continued the search for the Bellanca, and recovered the wreckage on February 9, 2016.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Long Beach FSDO-05

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov,  and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov



Mary and Rich Falstrom


Deacon Martin Clement

 Martin Clement













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Wreckage and debris
















Divers on Wednesday recovered the body of a pilot in the wreckage of a small plane that collided in midair with another aircraft and plunged into the ocean outside the Port of Los Angeles.

The plane and the woman's body were brought to the surface around 10 a.m., said a statement from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

The Citabria, a single-engine aerobatic plane, was discovered Monday evening about a mile from the original crash site, according to the statement.

A second plane and the bodies of two men aboard were recovered Sunday.

A massive search was launched Friday after a plane piloted by a 72-year-old woman was seen on radar colliding with a craft carrying men ages 61 and 81 off San Pedro, just outside the harbor.

Authorities used sonar devices and remote-operated underwater vehicles.

Authorities have not released any identities, but the woman's husband identified her as Mary Falstrom of Torrance.

Richard Falstrom said his wife, a longtime pilot, told him Friday that she was going on a plane ride to enjoy the sunny weather. Hours later came the news of the collision.

Richard Falstrom believes his wife died doing something that gave her great joy. "She loved flying. It was a passion," he told The Associated Press.

His wife was a member of The Ninety-Nines, Inc., an international organization of women pilots, and he said she volunteered at the Western Museum of Flight at Torrance Airport, from which she and the other plane took off Friday.

The plane carrying the men was a Beech 35 Bonanza, said Allen Kenitzer, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.


The crash site was near the Angels Gate light, a lighthouse at the San Pedro Breakwater that is on the National Register of Historic Places. The area is popular for flight students.



As authorities resumed an air and sonar search Monday for the remaining downed airplane from Friday’s midair collision off the coast of San Pedro, loved ones of two victims paid tribute to their memory.

Divers found more debris from the wreckage of a Beech 35 Bonanza that was recovered Sunday with the remains of two men who were on board, but a Citabria flown by 72-year-old Torrance resident Mary Falstrom has yet to be located.

Officials have not released the names of the three victims who died in the crash, but St. Lawrence Martyr Catholic Church identified one of them as Deacon Martin Clement, 61, of Redondo Beach. Clement was a pilot but it was not clear whether he was at the controls of the Bonanza, which also carried an 81-year-old man who has not been identified.

Falstrom was described as an easygoing, bubbly, longtime pilot and Clement as a caring deacon called to his vocation by selflessness.

Falstrom was identified by her husband of 24 years, Richard Falstrom.

He believes recovering his wife’s remains will bring him closure.

“The fact that they found the first one gives me hope,” said Richard Falstrom, a retired electrical contractor. “I’m praying they will find the second one and I appreciate the efforts of everyone out there.”

Mary Falstrom, a longtime pilot who volunteered at the Western Museum of Flight in Torrance, flew several times a week out of Torrance Municipal Airport.

On Friday, she told her husband it was a perfect day to fly.

“She ran in and said, ‘It’s a beautiful day, I have to go flying!’ ” Richard Falstrom recalled of what would be their last conversation. “I said, ‘Have fun!’ ”

The retired executive secretary at Raytheon juggled an active schedule of Zumba and aerobics classes, flying and activities in two flying groups — the Torrance-based Del Amo Flyers and the Long Beach/South Bay Chapter of the Ninety-Nines, an international women pilots organization.

Del Amo Flyers President Larry Chapman remembered Mary Falstrom as “very friendly and sociable.”

“She flew for pleasure,” he said. “As tragic as it is, she really did do something she very much enjoyed.”

Friend and Ninety-Nines chapter secretary Anne O’Brien described Mary as a “shy sweetie-pie” who spoke often of her love for Richard and her only son from a previous relationship, Chris Kringel.

“She was always in the background and never wanted to be in front of the room or anything,” said O’Brien, who saw Mary in her plane at Torrance airport before she took off Friday afternoon.

O’Brien and another pilot, Linda Howard, had just returned from a lunch trip to Camarillo.

Mary Falstrom helped the Ninety-Nines paint compass roses at Rosie the Riveter Park in Long Beach and Pacific Skies Aviation flight school in Torrance.

She flew in eight of the Ninety-Nines’ Palms-to-Pines races and, one year, her engine stopped and she was forced to land in a field near a farmhouse on the Oregon border.

O’Brien said news of the crash was especially shocking because Mary Falstrom was extra cautious and kept her plane in immaculate condition. Though it was designed to be flown upside down, she would only attempt aerobatics with an instructor.

Friends in the aviation community suspect the planes likely did not see each other because Mary Falstrom’s was a high-wing plane and the other aircraft was a low-wing plane, and they could have been out of each other’s view.

A woman’s voice was reportedly overheard on radio frequencies at the time of the crash saying, “Uh oh” and “Help me! Help me!” Richard Falstrom said.

He said his wife was “infatuated” with flying. She grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, watching planes take off at the international airport as a teenager before working as a flight attendant and taking up flying lessons.

She met her husband through Parents Without Partners.

Richard Falstrom said the family — including his two children, who are Mary’s stepchildren — is having a difficult time coping with the sudden loss.

He recently went through her calendar and noticed that Mary had scribbled a Helen Keller quote in several places that read: “Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.”

St. Lawrence Martyr shared news of Clement’s death through an announcement on Facebook on Saturday.

“Our community mourns the sudden death of Deacon Martin Clement who died Friday in a fatal plane crash. This comes as quite a shock to all concerned and is a deep loss to our SLM family,” the announcement stated, asking for privacy for his family. “May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in God’s peace.”

Clement, a pilot and financial planner, was a parishioner before becoming an ordained deacon in 2013. His wife, Martha, is head of bereavement at the church.

According to a church bulletin announcing Martin’s ordination, he and Martha married at St. Lawrence in 1990 after dating for two years.

He was active in All Life Charities and heavily involved with Get on the Bus, a program that unites children with their incarcerated mothers and fathers.

Clement also was very involved in homeless outreach in the South Bay, and brought communion to sick patients at Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Torrance.

Dale Sheckler, another deacon at the parish, said Clement was a selfless deacon devoted to not only St. Lawrence, but the entire community.

In a single word, he said, Clement could best be described as “servant.”

“He had kind of a dry sense of humor, but he was very entertaining to be around and always enthusiastic,” Sheckler said. “I don’t think I ever saw him down.”

Clement loved flying to Catalina, often taking deacons and priests, and he also was an avid skier. He had just returned from a trip to Mammoth.

Sheckler’s wife, Kim Sheckler, said Clement was “well-loved” at St. Lawrence.

“He truly touched the community and not just the St. Lawrence community,” she said. “You could always turn to him and he was always welcoming to people. There wasn’t anybody that he didn’t have an open arm for.”

Story and photos:  http://www.dailybreeze.com


Two bodies and the wreckage of a small plane were found Sunday by divers searching in the water off Southern California for evidence following a midair collision believed to have killed three people, authorities said. 

Divers made the discovery about 100 feet below the surface, in an area about 2 miles off Los Angeles Harbor, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Capt. Jack Ewell said in a statement.

Investigators from the coroner's office will identify the victims and divers will resume the search Monday morning, he said.

A massive search was launched Friday after a plane piloted by a 72-year-old woman was seen on radar colliding with a craft carrying men ages 61 and 81 off San Pedro, just outside the harbor.

Authorities have not released any identities, but the woman's husband identified her as Mary Falstrom of Torrance.

Richard Falstrom said his wife, a longtime pilot, told him Friday that she was going on a plane ride to enjoy the sunny weather. Hours later came the news of the collision.

Some debris from a plane carrying two men, including a pilot's logbook, was quickly found. But there was no sign of Falstrom or her plane.

Richard Falstrom believes his wife died doing something that gave her great joy.

"She loved flying. It was a passion," he told The Associated Press.

His wife was a member of The Ninety-Nines, Inc., an international organization of women pilots, and he said she volunteered at the Western Museum of Flight at Torrance Airport, from which she and the other plane took off Friday.

The plane carrying the men was a Beech 35 Bonanza and the second was a Citabria, said Allen Kenitzer, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. Falstrom said his wife flew a Bellanca 8KCAB Super Decathalon, an aerobatic plane by the same maker of the Citabria.

The crash site was near the Angels Gate light, a lighthouse at the San Pedro Breakwater that is on the National Register of Historic Places. The area is popular for flight students.

Authorities said both pilots were experienced.

Source:  http://abcnews.go.com




After a midair crash between two small planes Friday in San Pedro launched a water search for three, one pilot's husband was speaking out Saturday.

Mary Falstrom of Torrance, 72, was identified by her husband,  Rich Falstrom, as one of the pilots involved in the crash.


"She was very proud of the fact that she was a female pilot because there aren't as many of those around," Rich Falstrom said.


Rich said he was proud of his wife too, and recalled what she said before taking off Friday.


"She more or less said, 'It's too pretty a day -- I have to go flying,'" Rich said.


Rich said his wife was a flight attendant when she was young and and an experienced pilot of more than 25 years.


Rich said she owned a two-seater aerobatic plane that she would fly
once or twice a week, usually taking off from and landing at Torrance Airport.

"I'm sure she was just doing her normal routine and apparently didn't see the other plane, and they didn't see her," Rich said.

The Coast Guard called off a large-scale search Saturday morning for two men and Falstrom, but Los Angeles County Sheriff's officials said the search would resume Sunday morning. 

"I'm sad," Jim Gates, a fellow pilot in the flying club to which Falstrom belonged, said.

Gates said he watched Falstrom take off from Torrance Airport before the crash. He said her plane was designed for aerobatics.

A retired United Airlines pilot, Arvid Von Norden-Flycht, said he was looking at the radar trying to track the planes in the moments before the crash.

"It looked like at the last second somebody was turning," Norden-Flycht said.

The two small planes departed from the Torrance airport before the collision occurred. 

A crew of a fishing boat reported that a plane had hit the waters near the Point Fermin Lighthouse Friday, officials said.

Debris and a log book was found Friday after a plane was reported down at 3:14 p.m., said Capt. Jennifer Williams of the U.S. Coast Guard. 

"The rescue operation has transitioned to a recovery operation," according to a statement Saturday from the Coast Guard. The LA County Sheriff's Department plans to conduct diving and sonar searches to located wreckage, according to the statement. 

Two men, ages 61 and 81, were aboard a plane that was seen on radar colliding with another aircraft assumed to be piloted by Falstrom on Friday. Both pilots were experienced, Williams said.

The identities of the two men were not released, but Williams said they were South Bay residents.

Crews were to resume searching Sunday at 6 a.m., according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

"I'm sad, but I'm also glad she died doing what she likes," Gates said.

Story and video: http://www.nbclosangeles.com





Authorities on Saturday called off the search for survivors of a midair collision that sent at least one plane plunging into the ocean near the Port of Los Angeles and instead turned to hunting bodies and wreckage. 

The active search for three missing people was suspended at 9:15 a.m., according to a U.S. Coast Guard statement.

Two men, ages 61 and 81, were aboard a plane that was seen on radar colliding with another aircraft flown by a 72-year-old woman around 3:30 p.m. Friday, officials said.

The first plane was a Beech 35 Bonanza and the second was a Citabria, said Allen Kenitzer, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

After reports of the crash, divers converged on an area about two miles outside a harbor entrance where a small debris field was found. The water there was 80 to 90 feet deep.

On Friday, divers found wreckage and a pilot's logbook from the Beechcraft, Coast Guard Capt. Jennifer Williams said.

No one has heard from the other plane, authorities said.

Both planes had taken off from the nearby Torrance Airport, and both pilots were experienced, Williams said. All three people live in the nearby South Bay area. No names have been released.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department was using sonar and remotely operated underwater vehicles to search the area where debris and oil were spotted Friday. However, nothing more had been found by Saturday afternoon, said Capt. Jack Ewell of the sheriff's Special Operations Bureau.

The planes could have gone down in different areas or the ocean currents could have moved debris miles away, he said.

As for the chance of survivors, "the odds are definitely not good," Ewell said.

"You do have to consider that a plane crashed and it's very hard to survive that in any conditions, let alone two miles out in deep water," he said.

The nearest harbor entrance was closed to traffic while the search continued.

The crash site was near the Angels Gate light, a lighthouse at the San Pedro Breakwater that is on the National Register of Historic Places. The area is popular for flight students.

Richard Garnett, chief flight instructor with the Long Beach Flying Club, said the pilots practice in an area that is 10 to 20 square miles and at altitudes ranging from 1,000 to 4,000 feet. On a typical day, there will be three or four planes in the air at the same time.

"So with the amount of activity, actually, I think we've been fortunate," he said. "We are really diligent. I don't know why, what happened in this situation."

Friday's midair collision was not the first in the area.

In 2001, four people died when two Cessna airplanes carrying instructors and students collided 1,000 feet above the harbor. In 1986, two small planes flown by students collided. But the aircraft managed to return to their airports, and the four people on board escaped injury.



Two small planes with three people believed to be aboard collided over the ocean just outside Los Angeles Harbor and plunged into the water Friday, authorities said, prompting a massive search by dozens of boats and divers.

The Coast Guard said the collision occurred at about 3:30 p.m. on a dazzlingly sunny day. Investigators had no immediate word on what might have caused the accident.

A small debris field was located near the Point Fermin Lighthouse, according to Erik Scott of the Los Angeles Fire Department, which was assisting in a multi-agency search effort.

At a nighttime press conference, Coast Guard spokeswoman Capt. Jennifer Williams said preliminary information showed that both planes had flown out of the Torrance Airport and that those on board were South Bay residents and experienced pilots. Two men, 61 and 81, were in one plane and a 72-year-old woman was in the other, Williams said.

The planes were a Beechcraft and a Super Decathlon acrobatic craft, she added.

Searchers found wreckage, including a pilot’s logbook, from the Beechcraft plane that was carrying the two men.

The plane flown by the woman is missing, and air traffic controllers saw two aircraft apparently run into each other on radar, leading authorities to conclude they must have collided.

A Coast Guard helicopter equipped with night vision and two vessels planned to search about 200 square miles of ocean for any survivors through the night, with a more extensive search resuming at daybreak Saturday, Lt. Jonathan McCormick said.

“We don’t want to give up until we really feel that there’s no chance,” Williams said, “that we haven’t scanned the area, searched the whole area and looked for survivors.”

L.A. County lifeguard Capt. Ken Haskett says divers have found a plane tail number and a partial number from a second plane in the water.

The nearest harbor entrance was closed to traffic while the search continued.

The crash site was a quarter-mile south of the Angels Gate light, a lighthouse at the San Pedro Breakwater that is on the National Register of Historic Places. The area is popular for flight students and there were many planes in the crystal clear skies at the time of the accident.

Pilots communicate at two different radio frequencies — one for above 2,000 feet and the other below, said Reed Novisoff, chief pilot at Pacific Air Flight School.

“People are very diligent about reporting their positions,” Novisoff said. “It’s very safe out there.”

Nonetheless, Friday’s midair collision was not the first.

In 2001, four people died when two Cessna airplanes carrying instructors and students collided 1,000 feet above the harbor.

In 1986, two small planes flown by students collided, but the aircraft managed to return to their airports and the four people on board escaped injury.

Richard Garnett, chief flight instructor with the Long Beach Flying Club, said the pilots practice in an area that is 10 to 20 square miles and at altitudes ranging from 1,000 to 4,000 feet. On a typical day, there will be three or four planes in the air at the same time.

“So with the amount of activity, actually, I think we’ve been fortunate,” he said. “We are really diligent. I don’t know why, what happened in this situation.”

Source:  http://www.ocregister.com




Two aircraft, one of them an aerobatic plane, crashed into the water after an midair collision off San Pedro, prompting a multi-agency search for survivors on Friday afternoon, authorities said.

Petty Officer Andrea Anderson with the U.S. Coast Guard confirmed that some kind of incident involving two planes, and both were believed to be down in the water.

One of the planes was a Beechcraft 35 and the other was described as an aerobatic stunt plane, according to Spencer Parker with L.A. County Lifeguards.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Lifeguard Division later said the Coast Guard and the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that a midair collision between two aircraft had occurred.

A preliminary report at 3:14 p.m. indicated a small plane was in the ocean with a small debris field near San Pedro, Erik Scott of the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

Divers were entering the water to search, he said.

Multiple agencies, including the Coast Guard, were responding.

Los Angeles County lifeguards said a report was made by a fishing vessel that a single-propeller plane went into 80 feet of water off Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro.


FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the agency had been alerted about an aircraft down, but had no information about the type of plane or the number of people on board.

Story, video and photo gallery:  http://ktla.com



Divers working for several emergency response agencies are searching the waters of San Pedro Harbor for any survivors following a mid-air collision involving two light aircraft Friday afternoon.

U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Jonathan McCormick said the Federal Aviation Administration has confirmed that a mid-air collision took place near the Point Fermin Lighthouse, and two separate tail identification numbers were recovered.

Responders did not know how many passengers were involved in the crash, and the multi-agency search was ongoing as of about 6 p.m. Friday.

The report of the crash came in at 3:28 p.m. Several agencies responded to the scene, including Los Angeles County fire, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies and the Long Beach Fire and Police departments.

The crew of a fishing boat reported a plane hitting the water, an official with the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Lifeguards Division said. The initial report indicated it was a single-engine plane in about 80 feet of water roughly 2 miles off the coast of Cabrillo Beach.

Firefighters deployed a dive team in the area of a debris field, said Capt. Mark Miller of the Long Beach Fire Department. The size or model of the planes was not yet known. Officials did not release the plane identification numbers.

Rescuers were searching for survivors.

The air space is known as a practice area for pilots, officials said.

Phillip Sanfield, a spokesman for the Port of Los Angeles, said the Angels Gate entrance to the port will be closed until further notice. The closure is not affecting port operations, however, because vessels are able to enter or exit the harbor via the Queens Gate entrance, off the Long Beach shoreline.

Port of Los Angeles police divers are assisting the search team.

Story and photo gallery:  http://www.presstelegram.com




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