CARLSBAD Four people were killed when a small jet skidded off the end of the runway at the west end of McClellan-Palomar Airport Tuesday morning and crashed into a building, bursting into flames. No one on the ground was hurt.
The Cessna 560 Citation twin-engine jet came from Hailey, Idaho, near the resort community of Sun Valley, and crashed around 6:40 a.m. when it went off Runway 24 at Palomar Oaks Way and Dryden Place, authorities said.
The point at which the plane skidded off the runway at McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad. The names of the dead have not been released; authorities said there were two passengers and two crewmembers aboard the plane.
It slammed through a barricade and careened down a 100- to 150-foot bluff, leaving a trail of aircraft parts behind it. It then glanced off the side of the Carlsbad Airport Self Storage facility before coming to a rest in a tangled ball of metal and flames.
Firefighters put out the blaze a short time later. Carlsbad Fire Division Chief Chris Heiser, who has been with the department for 20 years, said the “catastrophic event” was the worst he had ever seen at the airport.
Firefighters spray flame retardant over parts of the plane, including the tail (at right), at McClellan-Palomar Airport this morning. The plane also struck a shed that housed instrument landing system equipment, said Mike Fergus, a spokesman with the Federal Aviation Administration. All four people riding on board the aircraft were killed, Fergus said.
The airport was closed and will not reopen until after 10 a.m. and the airspace around the airport was restricted, said San Diego County Airports spokesman Bill Polick.
Polick said that the airport’s control tower had not yet opened for the day at the time of the crash.
Jmarie Eikam, who is the manager of the storage facility, said that at least ten of the storage units and the contents inside them were damaged.
Ben Biley, an account manager from San Diego, said he was in his office in the building next to the storage facility that was hit and heard what sounded like something clipping the top of the building, followed by a loud boom he said sounded like a cannon.
He looked out his window and saw a beach ball-size hole in his window and his brand new Subaru in flames. “I put two and two together and got the heck out of there,” he said.
The general aviation airport is operated by the county and used by private aircraft, corporate aircraft and two commuter airlines America West Express and United Express. It is named for aviator Gerald McClellan, a North County civic leader.
State incorporation records show the Go-ship Air plane is owned by Kipp Nelson and Steve Shafran, both of Ketchum. Idaho. Shafran was appointed this month to the Ketchum City Council and Nelson is an investment banker and a trustee of the U-S Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation.
The Citation was 12 years old. Rwy 24 is 4897 x 150 ft/1493 x 46 m.