The pilot of a single-engine plane died Thursday morning, Nov. 7, when the aircraft crashed into an Upland home, setting it on fire.
Two adults and a young child inside the house escaped the flames.
“It is unbelievably lucky that they were able to escape — it landed right in their living room,” said San Bernardino County Fire Department spokesman David Pingree.
Firefighters said the pilot was believed to be the only person on board the plane. The craft was identified as a Cirrus SR22, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.
The four-seater plane was flying from Torrance to Cable Airport in Upland. It had flown from Palm Springs to Torrance on Wednesday, Gregor said. He said the crash will be investigated by the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board.
The plane is registered to a licensed pilot with an address in Palos Verdes Estates, FAA records show.
San Bernardino County firefighters arrived at the scene at 1257 Overland Court to find the single-story home with fire coming through the roof.
What appeared to be a parachute was seen hanging from a palm tree near the crash site; that Cirrus SR22 has an onboard airframe parachute. Pingree said there were no eyewitness accounts of the parachute being deployed.
Upland Police Capt. Marcelo Blanco said the crash was reported to police at 10:59 a.m. A neighbor said the adults and child were at the opposite end of the home from where the plane smashed into it.
The plane has carbon fiber elements, presenting hazardous material issues, Pingree said. There was no word on when efforts would be made to recover the pilot’s body from the wreckage.
“We saw it engulfed in flames. It was shocking,” said Ann Berdette of the crashed aircraft. Berdette lives next door to the home hit by the plane.
She said she was in her home office when the plane crashed. “I heard the explosion, and I felt the impact.” She said a closed window blind “became bright with the flame.”
“I screamed at my husband … he said, ‘Get out, get your cellphone!’ We got out and called 911,” Berdette said.
She called it an “act of mercy” that the plane hit the opposite end of her neighbor’s house from where the father and his child were located.
The FAA’s Gregor said the NTSB will be the lead agency in the investigation and it could take a year or more to determine a probable cause for an accident.