Local

Official: 2nd flight training plane wreck in same area not sign of danger

A Cessna 152 flown by pilots from the Sierra Academy of Aeronautics International Training Center crashed at the Turlock Municipal Airport, Wednesday morning. Chief Pilot of the SAA, Jim Witt, was on scene but wouldn't comment about the crash, but did say there were no injuries. It's the second incident involving the academy within the past month when student pilot Daniel Yang and instructor pilot Ken Kwan, safely landed their Cessna 152 next to Turlock Lake after the plane was said to have had "catastrophic failure".
A Cessna 152 flown by pilots from the Sierra Academy of Aeronautics International Training Center crashed at the Turlock Municipal Airport, Wednesday morning. Chief Pilot of the SAA, Jim Witt, was on scene but wouldn't comment about the crash, but did say there were no injuries. It's the second incident involving the academy within the past month when student pilot Daniel Yang and instructor pilot Ken Kwan, safely landed their Cessna 152 next to Turlock Lake after the plane was said to have had "catastrophic failure". Modesto Bee - Bart Ah You

TURLOCK -- A flight training airplane made an emergency landing and flipped over in a field Wednesday morning near the Turlock Municipal Airport southeast of Turlock.

No one was injured during the 9:30 a.m. accident, which occurred as a student pilot was practicing takeoffs and landings in a Cessna 152 single-engine plane at the airport on East Avenue and Newport Road.

The student had just taken off from the runway when the engine failed, prompting the instructor to take the controls and bring the plane down about 1,000 feet north of the runway, said Jim Witt, an official with the plane's owner, the Sierra Academy of Aeronautics of Atwater.

The plane landed in soft dirt, causing it to flip over. The names of the instructor and student were not released.

"He did what he was supposed to," Witt said of the emergency landing.

Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration were examining the aircraft and talking with the instructor at the scene.

Wednesday was the second time in three weeks that a Sierra Academy plane made an emergency landing in the Turlock area.

On Jan. 27, Sierra Academy flight instructor Ken Kwan made an emergency landing southwest of Turlock Lake. The Cessna 152 was flying at 2,000 feet when a rod shot through the engine block, causing what authorities later called catastrophic engine failure.

He and student Daniel Yang were not injured. The Cessna involved in Tuesday's incident is 30 years old.

Witt said the two incidents do not suggest that Sierra Academy's training aircraft are unsafe. He said the FAA still was investigating what went wrong with the engine in the Jan. 27 incident. He said older airplanes are perfectly safe if properly maintained.

"I'm not going to comment any further," he said. "These questions are going in the wrong direction." The flight school has operated at Castle Airport in Atwater since 2006, training students from China and other foreign countries to serve as airline pilots in their home nations.

The school has 51 airplanes and 155 students who stay in dorms at the academy. Castle Airport is the primary site for the more than 100 training flights per day, but the school also uses the Turlock Municipal Airport and other airports in California, Witt said.

Ian Gregor, an FAA spokesman in Southern California, said he didn't have information on the school's safety record. He would not say if Wednesday's incident would raise a red flag with the agency.

"You don't typically determine the cause of an accident within hours of the incident," he said. "Anytime we see something that is indicative of a troubling trend we will take action." The two emergency landings didn't seem to concern students contacted at the Atwater academy.

"Most of the aircraft are safe, and the inspections are complete, so we don't worry about that," said Xiang Chu, a student from China.

In November, a 26-year-old Sierra Academy student died in a propeller accident on the Castle Airport runway. The student, a Chinese national, suffered fatal injuries when the propeller of a Cessna struck his head.

  Comments