With Fire Station 7 so close to the Oceanside Airport, firefighters are used to planes flying nearby. On the morning of Wednesday, July 28, however, while training outside Oceanside firefighters were surprised to see a twin-engine plane flying directly at them at about 50 feet above the ground. The roar was so loud that members inside the station thought for sure that something was about to crash into the building. “It looked like it was going to hit the tip of the ladder we had raised,” said FF/PM Mike Farnham. As the crew ducked for cover the plane passed overhead and was quickly out of site. Seconds later they heard an explosion followed by a large plume of smoke. The rare occurrence allowed them to be in their safety gear and on scene before they were even dispatched.
Witnesses reported that as the pilot was taking off eastbound they heard the engine hesitate, wind up, then quit. It appeared that he was going to attempt an emergency landing on Highway 76, however at the time it was full of traffic. Thats when he apparently veered for an unoccupied clearing just to the north. He barely cleared the high-tension power lines as he raised his landing gear and committed to crash land. Unfortunately, the twin Beech Baron crashed hard and ignited on impact, killing the single occupant pilot inside.
By the time the OFD arrived the plane was completely engulfed in flames and a small brush fire had started. They were able to stop its spread and applied firefighting foam to the aircraft. The aviation fuel in the wings continued to burn for some time. OPD, the FAA, and the NTSB were also on scene to investigate.