RICHMOND, Calif. (AP) — The pilot of a small plane thought he had enough room to pass another plane low and to the left before he heard a thump and realized they had collided over San Francisco Bay last month, federal investigators said.
The Hawker Sea Fury pilot, who has not been identified, saw the Cessna going down after the collision, but concentrated on flying his plane and continued to his home airport to avoid populated areas, according to a preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report about the April 27 crash released on Thursday.
The Cessna plunged into the bay, and its pilot — identified as 33-year-old David Everett Plumb, of Rocklin — died. The plane's fuselage and engine were recovered three days later off the Richmond shoreline east of San Francisco
The Sea Fury pilot and his wife landed safely at Eagle's Nest Airport in Ione.
A later examination of the Sea Fury showed it suffered significant damage to its tail, including a crushed vertical stabilizer that was reported to have a 12-inch section missing, the NTSB report says.
Both planes had departed from Eagle's Nest Airport to participate in the Pacific Coast Dream Machines, an annual festival at Half Moon Bay Airport that features a variety of planes, motorcycles and cars. Both planes left Half Moon Bay, about 20 miles south of San Francisco, and were on their return flight.
The pilot of the Sea Fury, a vintage British fighter plane, met with another aircraft for a photo shoot over the Golden Gate Bridge before determining the Cessna's position and flying to it, the NTSB said.
The Sea Fury pilot told the Cessna pilot he would pass low and to the left. The Sea Fury was traveling around 200 mph.