The plane came to rest in the backyard of a home at 21st and Navy streets and is owned by Hollywood actress Rachel Blanchard. She was not home when the plane came crashing down Monday.
Officials said the pilot was a student at a local flight school, and he had about 50 hours of training.
The pilot was on his way to Santa Barbara when something went wrong. As he was making a second attempt to land the Cessna, it ended up nose-diving into the back of the house, causing some damage to a garage.
Some painters nearby rushed to the scene and immediately started pulling the pilot out. He suffered a broken leg.
"We had to cut the seatbelt in a few places, so we could get him out," said witness Luis Espana.
Painters also used a hose to put out a small fire.
Residents are concerned because they said the end of the runway comes about 300 feet from some homes.
"I came home, and the whole block was closed, and it scared me like crazy because I didn't know what happened," said Marie Claire of Santa Monica.
The crash was a chilling reminder for residents of the possible danger they face every day living within blocks of Santa Monica Airport and a flight school.
Some residents recently tried to ban certain jets from landing at Santa Monica Airport, but the Federal Aviation Administration insists that it is safe for planes to fly there.
Last summer, a pilot died after his plane nose-dived into a nearby golf course as he was practicing touch-and-go landings.
In 2004, two people died in a similar accident when their plane crashed into a house.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the incident.