The two-seat plane, an 1941 Stinson SR-9, crash-landed in an empty field near the intersection of Eastlake and Hunte parkways, east of State Route 125 around 6:45 a.m. It came to rest upside down.
The pilot, a man in his 60s, suffered minor injuries but did not need to be taken to the hospital. No one else was hurt.
The pilot told police that he took off from Brown Field and had a mechanical malfunction. He initially tried to land on the 125 freeway but regained power and decided to try to fly back to Brown Field. The plane lost power again, and he came down in the field on a gentle hill, where the plane flipped over.
Chula Vista Police Captain Lon Turner says the pilot told first responders he thought he'd be able to make it to the nearby airport.
"According to the pilot, he did touch down on the 125 at East H wheels down," Turner said. "The problem with the engine seemed to go away and he felt he had enough to get the plane back to Brown Field so he decided to take off from there."
"He called me this morning at 7 and said the plane just crashed," said the pilot's wife, Teri Nance.
Nance said her husband is an experienced aviator who has been flying for 30 years. The plane is rare, only one of a few left, and belonged to the pilot's best friend who passed away recently.
"Still a few out there but there’s not that many of the Stinson Reliant, the SR9’s, left that are still flying," Nance said.
She said things could have turned out worse. She's grateful her husband was able to walk away from the crash.
"He’s always saying, where you going to land if your engine dies right here? So it’s something you have to keep in the back of your mind. If anybody could put it down and walk away it was him," Nance said.
Records show that the plane is registered to John D. Nance, a resident of San Diego. Police taped off the crash scene while they investigated the crash. No roads were closed, and traffic was unaffected.