CARLSBAD, Calif. — A small plane made an emergency landing Thursday morning on South Carlsbad State Beach.
Officials confirm all three passengers survived without needing to go to the hospital.
The plane was removed around 1 p.m. with the help of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department’s Hazardous Materials Unit and the San Diego County Environmental Health Department.
Several people witnessed the crash and its aftermath.
“It was like 7:40, I was up and we were getting moving, and just heard a sound like a larger than usual wave, like a rogue wave that sometimes will hit,” said Gordon Crowl, a camper at South Carlsbad State Beach. “Went down to find out what was going on and saw everybody looking over the side and thought, oh, that’s unusual.”
City of Carlsbad Fire Department Battalion Chief Eric Evonsion said all three passengers swam to shore before help even arrived.
“It’s phenomenal, it’s God’s grace that they walked away from it,” Crowl said.
The plane left Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport in Kearny Mesa headed to John Wayne Airport in Orange County.
Evonsion told FOX 5 Palomar Airport in Carlsbad said the pilot complained of engine problems. Air traffic control reportedly lost contact with the pilot before crashing roughly two miles away from the runway.
From the call, you can hear the pilot talking with them and the pilot saying that all occupants are safe.
“It was a king tide today, so it was very high tide — there was no beach,” Evonsion said. “All it was was a bunch of cobblestones, beach rock. They put it in the water. They did say they made a conscious decision to not put the landing gear down so maybe they could glide across the surface of the water a little bit better. So I think it worked out for them.”
From the tail number, the FAA registry shows the plane owned by Christopher Sluka. On Sluka’s Facebook page it mentions Sluka owns a company called Learn to Fly San Diego. A sticker with the company’s logo could be seen on the plane.
“I think it’s just an incredible day for them,” Evonsion said. “Hopefully, they go buy a lottery ticket. Tremendous luck today.”
Palomar Airport operations told FOX 5 the plane will temporarily stay there before it is transferred to Monterey-Gibbs Executive Airport. The FAA and NTSB will investigate the cause.