PALO ALTO (CBS 5) — A man in his 50s walked away unscathed after his plane crashed into mud flats near the eastern end of the Dumbarton Bridge Saturday afternoon, authorities said.

The pilot of a single-engine Cessna 140 reported a loss of engine power at about 12:40 p.m. after taking off from the Palo Alto Airport, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.

The man piloting the plane, a retired commercial pilot with about 30,000 hours of flight experience, was planning on going to Illinois, but instead tried to turn around and make it back to the airport, Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said.

However, the plane didn’t make it back and landed in soft mud near the bridge shortly after 1 p.m., Schapelhouman said.

The plane overturned after the crash landing, but the pilot, the lone occupant of the plane, managed to get out safely, Schapelhouman said.

An “Everglades-style” rescue boat from the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, the only one in the South Bay, responded and rescued the man, who appears to be uninjured, according to Schapelhouman.

The fire district is working with state Fish and Game and U.S. Coast Guard officials to handle fuel and oil that is leaking from the upside-down aircraft, Schapelhouman said.

There was about 21 gallons of fuel and five gallons of oil on the plane, he said.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash. Schapelhouman said authorities were still deciding this afternoon whether to remove the aircraft from the site, or leave it there for federal investigators.

The plane is registered to a Menlo Park man, but it is unknown whether he was the pilot. The owner will ultimately be responsible for the cost of the cleanup, Schapelhouman said.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)

Comments (12)
  1. John says:

    Next time, check the gas guage!

    1. denis says:

      or better yet, how about getting 1/2 a brain on how to fly those pesky contraptions!

    2. Mike says:

      Are you illiterate? The article clearly states that there were 21 gallons of fuel aboard.

  2. Sky King says:

    Or even better yet, buy a twin engine plane. That way if one engine goes out, you still have a spare.

  3. JaneQPublic says:

    The Pilot was planning to go from Callifornia to Illinois – on 21 gallons of fuel?

    Wow – THAT would be terrific gas mileage!!!

  4. Andy says:

    The level of ignorance about aviation among the general public is staggering.

    1. Pilot says:

      Some of the postings make me laugh. I am a pilot and it just baffles me how people become experts with their comments. Most people have no clue what is involved in aviation.

      Private Pilot
      15 years + helicopter mechanic on Blackhawks and Apaches.

      1. Folsom Bandit says:

        Hmmm…If I had to guess by reading you’re comment….I’d say you’re currently a Blackhawk mechanic and you’re….Very, very close to Farah? 😉

  5. John K. says:

    Not just aviation, my friend.

  6. JBlevins says:

    I fly out of Palo Alto and San Carlos Airports. A high wind advisory was issued prior to his crash. This usually means lightcraft do not fly. Even the big jets alter take offs and approaches during high winds. What was Capt Nimrod doing out there? His 30K Hours of flying in a big jet means nothing in a Cessna 140 Super Light.
    It will be interesting to see what comes out of the investigation of maintenance records, sobriety, blood and urine tests as well as the flight plan.

  7. Janet says:

    I say < "Let's be Thankful the Pilot got out alive!!!!!!

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