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Plane fell apart during descent

April 22, 2009|By Christopher Cadelgo

BURBANK — The single-engine plane that crashed about eight miles northeast of Montgomery Field in San Diego, killing a Burbank pilot and his wife, fell apart during its descent, according to a preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Friedrich Leo Weber, 51, and Mary Agnes Weber, 58, were piloting their Piper Comanche when it came down in mountainous terrain at 10:54 a.m. April 11, east of the runways at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

The pilot did not report experiencing any difficulties or abnormal conditions during the flight.

Shortly before the plane crashed, the cloud cover was at 4,800 feet and the pilot signaled to air traffic controllers that he was descending from 6,200 feet to 4,400 feet, the report states.


Two and a half minutes later the controller instructed the pilot to descend to 2,600 feet, and to “keep your speed up” and “maintain maximum forward speed,” the report states.

As the southbound plane descended, it began to take a westerly course, and within two minutes radar and radio contact was lost.

A witness based three-quarters of a mile from the crash saw objects falling from the sky and fire on a nearby hillside, according to the report.

National Transportation Safety Board officials discovered several components of the airplane’s tail and outer wing about 400 feet from the crash site, chief investigator Wayne Pollack said.

The four-seat plane took off at 9 a.m. from Whiteman Airport in Pacoima and reportedly made no distress call before disappearing off the radar during a planned hourlong flight to Brown Field in Otay Mesa.

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