ATC Suggested NAS Coronado As Alternate Landing Site
Recordings of radio exchanges reveal that the pilot of a
military jet that crashed onto a San Diego home December 8,
resulting in four deaths on the ground, passed up at least two
chances to land at a facility with an approach over open water.
The transcripts were released by the government Tuesday. The
Associated Press reports the pilot, after reporting the failure of
one of the fighter's two engines, was directed to Naval Air Station
North Island in Coronado, which sits on the tip of a peninsula.
At that time, the pilot still had the plane under control, and
operating on one engine. The recordings show the pilot responded to
controllers, "I'm actually going to try to take it to Miramar if
possible." He also requested that emergency responders be
The base at Miramar is
10 miles farther north. It appears controllers tried to keep the
pilot's options open, by giving him headings that would allow
landing at either base in case of further difficulties. The
recordings also indicate the pilot had problems in following the
headings assigned by ATC due to the plane's mechanical
"I'm trying, sir, but single engine," the pilot said.
As ANN reported, the F/A-18 crashed into a
residential neighborhood two miles from Miramar, killing four
people on the ground. The pilot was able to eject from the fighter
moments before impact, after the plane lost power to its second
Marine Corps officials have defended the decision, although
they've declined to discuss particular questions, saying that would
compromise the investigation.
The AP reports 13 Marine Corps personnel have been disciplined
for errors involved in the crash, including the removal from duty
of four officers. Officials say the pilot should have been told to
fly over San Diego Bay and land at Coronado.
The base at Miramar dates to World War I, and has seen
encroachment by residential development in the decades since.