Pilot killed, Mother, daughter injured in Palo Alto ‘Angel Flight' plane crash

A man has died and two women were being taken to the hospital after a small plane crashed into a Palo Alto duck pond.  

The mother and daughter, who were passengers on the plane, are in stable condition at Stanford Hospital. They were headed to Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. 

The single-engine Mooney M20 crashed in the Baylands near Palo Alto Airport as it was attempting to land around 11:10 a.m. Tuesday. 

According to Michael Huhn with the NTSB, the pilot initially touched down on runway 13, but the landing wasn't right so the pilot pulled up and went around for a second landing when he crashed. Huhn says the runway is relatively short. 

According to Palo Alto firefighters, when crews arrived at the scene there was a person on the wing who was rescued. Another person was extricated from the aircraft. 

The plane reportedly had departed from Redding. KTVU has learned the plane was part of the Angel Flight West fleet, flown by a 60-year-old volunteer pilot. The Santa Monica-based company provides free air travel for patients needing flights to get to doctor’s appointments in California, and 12 other western states. The non-profit’s executive director says he personally knows the man killed in the accident.

“I can tell you in general, he’s a lot like our other volunteer pilots in terms of having a real passion for giving back to others and a real love for flying. He was kind of combining both and did it quite often,” said executive director Josh Olsen by phone.

He says he’s withholding the identity of the pilot who died, until the man’s family has been notified. On final approach, the pilot had some type of problem, prompting the tower radio if he needed help.

“The tower did contact the plane to ask if they needed assistance. Our dispatchers conveyed that to me. And the pilot replied they had it under control and that’s all I got,” said Palo Alto Deputy Fire Chief Geo Blackshire.

The cause of the crash is unknown. Investigators from the FAA and NTSB have flown to Palo Alto, and are trying to determine what went wrong. Two women who were passengers were able to climb out of the wreckage and onto a wing, where they were rescued by firefighters. Officials with Stanford Hospital say they’re both in stable condition. But employees at Angel Flight are reeling over the loss of life..

“It’s very difficult for us here in the office who worked with him and the patients he helped. A difficult time and situation for all of us,” said Olsen.

The Santa Clara County coroner will determine the cause of death. Palo Alto airport resumed normal operations a couple of hours after the crash.