Matt LaFever

The City of Ukiah in a statement released this evening has confirmed that single-engine aircraft that crashed today at the Ukiah Municipal Airport resulted in the death of the pilot.

The Ukiah Police Department, the National Transportation Safety Board, and the Federal Aviation Administration are currently investigating the crash.

A Ukiah resident who lives near the Ukiah Municipal Airport told us around 1:00 p.m. the plane was taking off and was going nearly take-off speeds when the crash occurred.

The flight plan as documented by shows that the plane was landing rather than taking off as the eyewitness believed.

The eyewitness went on to say that the plane was on the runway when some sort of malfunction took place. One of the tires associated with the landing gear reportedly broke off the craft which “caused the plane to flip,” the eyewitness said

It’s worth noting that the landing gear underneath the plane’s nose is visibility damaged in photographs taken of the scene. Also, where there should be a tire, there is none.

The plane’s path deviated as a result of the malfunction and it veered off the runway and struck a patch of earth. The eyewitness described the plane flipping over when it struck dirt. Nearby residents climbed the airport’s perimeter fence in hopes of assisting the pilot but said the pilot appeared deceased by the time they got there.

The plane originated from Napa Valley, as per flight records documented by, and its make and model is a Cessna 172 M Skyhawk.

The plane’s tail number 1870V is associated with a flight school in Napa County called Mike Smith Aviation. We spoke with Mike Smith himself who confirmed that one of his planes was the craft that crashed today. He said NTSB is actively investigating and could not comment further at this time.