Hawker Sea Fury

A Hawker Sea Fury was one of the planes involved in a plane crash in San Pablo Bay after departing from the Half Moon Bay Airport just after 4 p.m. on Sunday. Photo Miramar Events.

Emergency officials have located a missing Cessna that collided with another aircraft over San Pablo Bay. Both planes in the accident departed Sunday afternoon from the Pacific Coast Dream Machines event at the Half Moon Bay Airport. 

The Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office announced Monday afternoon that the plane crashed about one mile off the coastline of Richmond, landing in a relatively shallow area of water about 13 feet deep. Sheriff's officials say they have recovered pieces of wreckage and other items, and they are working to salvage the rest of the plane.

Little detail has been provided on the Cessna pilot, who officials so far have declined to identify. The pilot was "presumed fatally injured", according to an incident summary by Federal Aviation Administration officials.

The other airplane involved in the collision, a Hawker Sea Fury TMK 20, landed safely later Sunday afternoon, according to an Federal Aviation Administration spokesman.

The crash occurred at 4:05 p.m., according to FAA spokesman Ian Gregor. He said the Hawker landed 40 minutes later at a small airport in Amador County. The occupants of that plane were not injured, Gregor said.

The Coast Guard and other rescue crews were searching for the pilot of a Cessna 210 in San Pablo Bay, but they only found wreckage from an airplane. Crews searched through the night, but they reportedly found no further signs of the plane. A Coast Guard cutter and helicopter continued the search on Monday.

"My understanding is that the Hawker had a chase plane with him," said Tim Beeman, director of Miramar Events, which put on Dream Machines. "Chase planes typically follow to take photographs." Beeman said he didn't know who was piloting either plane. The Hawker was a registered feature of Sunday's event, but there was no immediate information on the Cessna.

More than 150 unique aircraft were featured at the Sunday aeronautics event, but an unknown number of other "fly-in" planes also landed at the airport for the festivities, Beeman said.

"Dream Machines has an incredibly safe track record over the years. We've had minimal incidents," he said. "No one know what the pilots were doing. Until that's found out, it remains a horribly tragic accident."

After the Sunday crash, local airport officials shut down the fuel pumps and took a sample in case it was needed in the investigation. The Hawker had reportedly refueled while parked at the airport. Later that evening, federal officials announced they didn't believe fuel played a factor in the crash, and the pumps were allowed to reopen.

The FAA reported the Hawker’s tail number was registered to an airplane with Sanders Aircraft Inc. A Sanders employee declined to comment on Monday morning about the incident. Gregor did not have any information about the Cessna.

There are no strict rules for the distance chase planes need to keep while flying in formation, said local aerobatics pilot Eddie Andreini. Two planes flying together can sometimes be safer because both pilots are watching each other in case something goes awry, he said.

"Normally, two pilots who know each other like they did, don't have any problems," he said. "It's kind of puzzling how those two planes made contact."

The National Transportation Safety Board is taking the lead on the investigation.

(5) comments


According to this KCRA News piece, http://www.kcra.com/news/wreckage-of-small-plane-found-in-sf-bay/25703382 : "The lead investigator, Howard Plagens, said the pilot of a vintage Hawker Sea Fury TMK 20 pulled up to the left side of a traveling companion flying a Cessna 210.

The Sea Fury's pilot heard a thump and immediately focused on trying to fly his own plane to land safely.

Plagens said the pilot saw the Cessna going down but did not see it crash."

This is a sad occurrence that may have been avoidable. My heart goes out to the downed pilot and his/her family and friends.


Sorry, but the dialogue below is nonsense. FAR 91.111 says exactly this:

Code of Federal Regulations

Subpart B--Flight Rules

Sec. 91.111

Operating near other aircraft.

(a) No person may operate an aircraft so close to another aircraft as to create a collision hazard.
(b) No person may operate an aircraft in formation flight except by arrangement with the pilot in command of each aircraft in the formation.
(c) No person may operate an aircraft, carrying passengers for hire, in formation flight.

Additionally, there is no such thing as a "Special Permit." There are waivers- of FAR's which are frequently issued for special airshows and the like, but formation flying, whether on approach to SFO, or over San Pablo Bay, is completely legal, as long as there are no paying passengers aboard, and the two pilots know they are so engaged.

I no longer have a low-level waiver, nor am I current, but I do know that nothing that happened yesterday was illegal in any way. (And as an actual member of the Caterpillar Club I am actually experienced enough to comment on this, having flown in formation frequently, and successfully bailed out of a broken airplane as well.)

And just for the record: My guess: The two airplanes never touched each other.


John Charles Ullom

August, August, August. In your rush to expose imagined ignorance, you have exposed yours.

There are no specific FAA regulations pertaining to the type of Aircraft when it come to Formation flying except maybe for Military vs Civilian.

As for coastallaslo asserting, wrong. There is not special permit regarding location and duration except those issued for organized demonstrations in restricted air space.

There are regulations that apply. Pilots must be current, in agreement with each other, and minimum altitudes need to be adhered too but there is no permit one applies for to do formation flying.

I can tell you that formation flying is really cool. When I was flying ASK-21's, the tow to altitude was formation flying. There a million ways to screw it up. Few of those ways end well.

August West

"According to the FAA pilots need special permit to do formation flying, specific to location and duration."

Thanks in advance for posting specific regulations relevant to the type of aircraft and flight involved. Oh, you cannot?


"There are no strict rules for the distance chase planes need to keep while flying in formation, said local aerobatics pilot Eddie Andreini. Two planes flying together can sometimes be safer because both pilots are watching each other in case something goes awry, he said."
Except that it is illegal. According to the FAA pilots need special permit to do formation flying, specific to location and duration.

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