SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Team 10 examined the history of crashes connected to San Diego’s airfields following the deadly crash in El Cajon that killed four people.
In 2021, prior to Monday night’s crash, the National Transportation Safety Board recorded seven plane crashes in the county.
Investigators have confirmed the plane involved in Monday's deadly crash was heading to Gillespie Field from Orange County.
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This is the second time a plane has crashed in a San Diego neighborhood over the past few months. A crash in Santee killed two people in October: the pilot Dr. Saguta Das and UPS driver Steve Kreuger. The plane was heading to Montgomery Field before it crashed.
According to the NTSB, there were nearly 50 crashes in San Diego County in the past five years. At least 14 aircraft either came from Gillespie or were heading to the airfield.
In October 2020, a plane heading back to Gillespie landed safely in the grass behind W.D. Elementary School in El Cajon. Nobody was hurt.
Before that, 2018 was a particularly tough year with four separate deadly crashes reported. Three of them were tied to Gillespie:
- In February 2018, Dr. John Longhurst and his wife were killed when their plane crashed in Santee.
- In May, a plane went down near Julian on its way back to Gillespie sparking a small brush fire. Three people died in that incident.
- A few months later in August, there was another fatal crash. The plane took off from Gillespie and was supposed to land there. Instead, investigators said it crashed near Descanso.
One aviation expert told Team 10 that Gillespie Field and Montgomery Field do not have any unusual challenges for pilots, although they are in more densely populated areas compared to other small airports in the county.
He added that many crashes in small aircraft are either pilot error or tied to mechanical problems.
The NTSB is expected to release a preliminary report on Monday’s crash in the next several weeks. A final report could take more than a year.