Two people were seriously injured and three others were shaken up Sunday when a single-engine light airplane crashed into three automobiles while trying to land on a street near Santa Monica Municipal Airport.
There was no fire, but Los Angeles police said two of the cars were badly damaged and the airplane was destroyed.
A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration said the Cessna 182 had just taken off from Santa Monica when the pilot, tentatively identified as Tom Robinson of Pacific Palisades, radioed the tower that he was losing power.
He was given permission for an immediate return to the airport, but said he was too low and intended to try for an emergency landing on the Penmar Golf Course nearby. He crashed instead in the 13200 block of West Rose Avenue in Mar Vista about a minute later, striking an automobile that was passing on the street and two others that were parked, before smashing into a tree.
The passenger compartment of the airplane was inverted when it came to rest, and rescue teams took several minutes to get the pilot and passengers out.
In addition to Robinson, others aboard the airplane were identified as his brother, Stanley, also of Pacific Palisades, and Stanley Robinson's 16-year-old son, Lance.
Lance Robinson was released after treatment for minor bruises and shock, but his father and uncle were taken to UCLA Medical Center, where both were reported in serious but stable condition.
On the ground, police said Ida Moore, 63, and Kem Lee Emeizian, 17, were shaken up when their automobile, a Japanese-made sedan, was struck a glancing blow by the airplane. They were released after examination by paramedics, however, and were able to drive their car away after it was removed from the tangle of wreckage and tree limbs on the street.
Bill Volz, who lives on West Rose Avenue, said the three occupants of the airplane were moving and trying to get out of the cabin when he arrived along with paramedics.
"There was a lot of fuel spilling on the ground," he said, "and I kept thinking it would be a real mess if a spark or something touched it off, but fortunately they were already stirring around in there and we went to work to get them out. . . ."
He said Lance Robinson, who was virtually unhurt, was first out of the airplane and expressed concern for his father and uncle, still trapped inside.
"He just had an abrasion on the knee," Volz said, "and he was more worried about them getting out than anything else. He said he thought they might be badly hurt."
Volz said Lance Robinson told him his uncle, who was at the controls of the airplane, was climbing normally after takeoff from the airport when the engine failed and he contacted the tower and was told to "get back to the field any way you can."
Later, Volz said, pilot Tom Robinson told him he had intended to attempt a landing on the golf course but abandoned the idea when he saw the parking lot crowded with automobiles and had just managed to nurse the airplane over some high-voltage wires in the vicinity when he crashed.
"He did a hell of a job," Volz said. "It could have been a real disaster."