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Eyewitness Says Plane Landing Gear Malfunctioned Causing Today’s Fatal Crash at Ukiah Airport

Local investigators at the site of today’s plane crash at the Ukiah Municipal Airport [Picture by Matt LaFever]

The City of Ukiah in a statement released this evening has confirmed that single-engine aircraft that crashed today at the Ukiah Municipal Airport resulted in the death of the pilot. 

The Ukiah Police Department, the National Transportation Safety Board, and the Federal Aviation Administration are currently investigating the crash. 

A Ukiah resident who lives near the Ukiah Municipal Airport told us around 1:00 p.m. the plane was taking off and was going nearly take-off speeds when the crash occurred. 

This screenshot from FlightRadar24.com shows a sharp turn-off of the Ukiah Municipal Airport runway

The flight plan as documented by FlightRadar24.com shows that the plane was landing rather than taking off as the eyewitness.

The eyewitness went on to say that the plane was on the runway when some sort of malfunction took place. One of the tires associated with the landing gear reportedly broke off the craft which “caused the plane to flip,” the eyewitness said

The Cessna 172M Skyhawk overturned on the south end of the Ukiah Municipal Airport runway [Picture by Matt LaFever]

It’s worth noting that the landing gear underneath the plane’s nose is visibility damaged in photographs taken of the scene. Also, where there should be a tire, there is none. 

The plane’s path deviated as a result of the malfunction and it veered off the runway and struck a patch of earth. The eyewitness described the plane flipping over when it struck dirt. Nearby residents climbed the airport’s perimeter fence in hopes of assisting the pilot but said the pilot appeared deceased by the time they got there.

The flight path of the plane that crashed today at the Ukiah Municipal Airport [Screenshot from FlightRadar24.com]

The plane originated from Napa Valley, as per flight records documented by FlightRadar24.com, and its make and model is a Cessna 172 M Skyhawk.

The plane’s tail number 1870V is associated with a flight school in Napa County called Mike Smith Aviation. We spoke with Mike Smith himself who confirmed that one of his planes was the craft that crashed today. He said NTSB is actively investigating and could not comment further at this time.

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