Santa Catalina Island, CA Lear Jet Crashes, Jan 1984


Santa Catalina Island (AP) - A Lear Jet 24 careened over a cliff and exploded into flames Monday as it landed at the mountaintop Airport-In-The-Sky on this resort island, killing all six people aboard, authorities said.
The twin-engine jet, registered to a San Jose company, "overran the runway and burst into flames as it skidded off the runway" shortly after 1:30 p.m., Los Angeles County sheriff's Deputy John Broussard said.
"The plane finally came to rest, fully engulfed in flames with six people trapped inside," Broussard added.
The plane, leaving skid marks 50 feet from the end of the runway, skidded over the cliff and crashed into heavy brush 200 feet below the runway, near one of several herds of wild buffalo on the island.
The airport is located atop a mountain in the rugged interior of the island, 26 miles off the shore from Los Angeles Harbor.
The dead were believed to be four men and two women, but identification was tentative as officials tried to contact relatives late Monday, said senior coroner's investigator George Borth.
"They're all adults," Borth said.
"We have no idea on ages." Autopsies will be conducted today, he said.
The airport's 3,250-foot runway was closed to all but news media and emergency aircraft.
The private jet was registered to G.B. Aero Inc., based at Reid-Hillview Airport in San Jose, said Anna Rucker, tower supervisor at Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa.
An FAA duty officer at Los Angeles International Airport, who refused to give his name, theorized the pilot canceled his flight plan at Monterey because of the good weather in Southern California where he was heading.
An administrator at San Jose Airport said initial information indicated the plane had flown to Santa Rosa from San Jose earlier in the day.
As inspectors examined the still-smoking wreckage late Monday afternoon, the victims' bodies were wrapped in bright yellow bags for transportation to the coroner's office on the mainland for identification.
"I wouldn't even want to guess a cause now," National Transportation Safety Board inspector Wally Funk said at the airport. "It was a nice clear day with moderate temperatures."
She said there was nothing unusual about the plane's approach, no apparent malfunctions and "I am told there were no problems in communication with the tower."
Broussard said the sheriff's department and federal aviation authorities will investigate the crash.

San Bernardino County Sun California 1984-01-31

Transcriber's Addition Information.
The fatalities were:
KENNETH DOYLE PLANTE, Pilot, of Santa Rosa.
DAVID SODERLING, Copilot, of Santa Rosa.
STEVEN A. BERARDI and his wife HEATHER, of Santa Rosa.
JOE L. DENISON, of Walnut Creek.
ORALYN ANN DENISON, of Walnut Creek.