Dangers of small airports surrounded by big cities - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Dangers of small airports surrounded by big cities

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – Crashes around Montgomery Field are nothing foreign.

In 1997, a plane crashed on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard after losing power right after takeoff. Amazingly, the pilot was able to set it down. No one was killed.

And the list goes on. In 1995, there was a crash on Balboa Avenue and I-805. In 1991, a vintage plane crashed after takeoff.

In all those incidents, just injuries. But others haven't been so lucky.

In 1987 a plane went down at Balboa and the 805, smashing into several cars, killing the pilot.

But perhaps the most infamous of them all was in 1983, when a twin engine Piper crashed just off Balboa in a Gemco department store parking lot, killing a man, woman, and six-month-old boy.

Wednesday's crash was also fatal, killing a 78-year-old woman. We spoke to aviation expert Bob Walker, who says it's never the airport that's dangerous, but the area around it. For Montgomery, it's surrounded by a concrete jungle.

"I think the challenge occurs when you have an engine failure you have less options in terms of where you can make a landing," Walker said.

Walker says dealing with this is something pilots are taught from the beginning.

"Just because an engine quits doesn't mean you've lost control of the aircraft, quite the contrary. You may not have control of how far you go, but you have total control over the wings and your speed, and that's the main thing is controling your speed. So you can stretch your glide to get to a safe area," he said.

And from the looks of it, in the latest incident, Walker says it appears the pilot did everything she could.

"I looked at the video and she did a very good job of keeping the airplane… it looked like it was in control because it was fully intact and there was survivors," he said.

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