Fire Department: Pilot reportedly experienced mechanical failure

by Palo Alto Weekly staff / Palo Alto Weekly

The pilot of a plane that reportedly experienced mechanical failure after taking off from the Palo Alto Airport Monday at 1:47 p.m. tried to return to the facility, only to crash into the marshland near the airport at 1:50 p.m., according to local officials and a flight-data website.

After takeoff, the twin-engine Beechcraft Baron 58P made a U-turn near Fremont’s Dumbarton Point, then struck Palo Alto power lines and crashed landed, flight-tracking data shows. The impact sheared off a part of the plane’s wing, which landed a couple hundred feet away from the aircraft.

“The plane landed on its belly,” Palo Alto fire Battalion Chief Shane Yarbrough told this news organization.

The pilot didn’t have significant injuries, according to the Fire Department.

The pilot was able to safely exit the aircraft and paramedics administered medical aid. He was taken to a hospital as a precautionary measure, Yarbrough said.

The plane carried 166 gallons of fuel, leading to fears of a fuel spill in the Baylands this afternoon, according to emergency dispatch reports.

California Fish and Wildlife inspectors were called to assess any potential fuel spill and its effect on the wetlands, Yarbrough said. He said he didn’t know for sure whether any fuel had spilled but the smell of jet fuel was apparent when he approached the aircraft, he said.

The small plane was visible, upright and resting on marshland just east of the Baylands Nature Interpretive Center. A hazardous waste team has been called to the scene, as well as a helicopter crew from the California Highway Patrol.

The incident will be investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, with NTSB in charge, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said.

The plane is registered to Faford Aviation Leasing Company in Atherton, according to Federal Aviation Administration registry records. It was built in 1982 and is currently registered with the agency.

The plane took off from the airport, located at 1925 Embarcadero Road, 19 minutes ahead of schedule, according to flight-tracking website It ascended to an altitude of 450 feet. The trip covered 8 miles and lasted three minutes.