6 die in small plane crash after dense marine layer envelops French Valley before landing

This is the second time in the past five days a plane has crashed near the French Valley Airport.

Sunday, July 9, 2023
6 die in small plane crash after marine layer envelops French Valley
A small plane crashed 500 feet from its intended runway in Riverside County after a marine layer abruptly covered the French Valley area early Saturday morning.

MURRIETA, Calif. (KABC) -- NTSB investigators are on scene after a small plane crashed as it attempted to land for the second time at the French Valley Airport in Riverside County, killing all six adults on board.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, a 1979 Cessna C550 business jet departed from Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas at around 3:15 a.m. Saturday and was set to land at the French Valley Airport in Murrieta.

The plane was not originally scheduled to fly at the time, but it was cleared to fly last minute.

A marine layer enveloped the area shortly before the twin-jet airplane was scheduled to land. It crashed short of the airport during its second approach around 4:15 a.m., officials said.

"The pilot reported to air traffic control that he was going to perform a missed approach, which generally happens when the pilot can't see the runway," said Eliott Simpson of the NTSB at a press conference Saturday.

The NTSB provided an update on its investigation after six people died in a plane crash in Riverside County on Saturday.

Air traffic control cleared the pilot for the missed approach and then cleared the pilot to land again after its first approach.

The pilot crashed 500 feet short of his intended runway.

The debris field is about 200 feet and the aircraft, excluding the tail, was consumed by fire.

The NTSB plans on conducting its investigation on scene for one to two days, and representatives from the FAA and Cessna will assist investigators.

A preliminary report should be out in about 14 days, and a full report takes around 18 months, Simpson said.

Officials will listen to air traffic control tapes as part of their investigation.

Witnesses confirmed the dense fog in the area Saturday morning.

"It was very foggy this morning. It was almost like you were in a snowstorm where you can't see a couple feet ahead of you. So, just getting to work was very challenging. So, I can only imagine trying to land any type of plane, you know, here at the French Valley Airport," said Patrick O'Neil, who works at Moon Valley Nurseries.

The French Valley Airport was closed for most of the day, but has since reopened.

This is the second time in the past five days a plane has crashed near the French Valley Airport. On Tuesday, a pilot was killed when a single-engine Cessna 172 crashed near the airport.

READ ALSO | 1 dead, 3 injured after small plane crashes in Riverside County

Both crashes remain under investigation.