VAN NUYS — A luxury jet veered off the runway while landing at Van Nuys Airport on Tuesday afternoon, smashing through four parked planes before flattening a chain-link fence and slamming to a halt against a tree on the outskirts of the airfield.
The Gulfstream II, which can carry 11 passengers, was carrying three crew members and one passenger when it came down on Runway 16 shortly after 1 p.m., according to Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Steve Ruda. There were no injuries but tens of thousands of dollars in damage, airport officials said.
The plane veered off the runway and skidded the length of several football fields across a grass infield and onto the apron where dozens of small planes were parked, officials said.
There was no immediate explanation for the incident.
Richard Guluzza, whose $68,000 Piper Archer II was destroyed in the accident, lamented the loss of the aircraft in which he taught his daughter and son--now an airline pilot--to fly.
"That's the heartbreaking part. It's like part of the family," said Guluzza, a flight instructor. "There's a lot of memories and I didn't want to see it go like that."
Federal Aviation Administration records list the Gulfstream, which federal records show was built in 1971, as registered to Trans Exec Air Service Inc. of Santa Monica. Those who answered the phone at Trans Exec's office would not comment on the accident.
Airport officials said the plane left New York earlier today and stopped in Colorado before traveling on to Van Nuys.
About 20 Los Angeles city firefighters were called in to contain and clean up 300 gallons of fuel that leaked from the damaged planes as a result of the collisions, Ruda said.
The mop-up operation lasted into the evening as firefighters surrounded the spilled fuel with foam and mounds of dirt.
Officials of the National Transportation Safety Board--which is in charge of investigating the accident--and the FAA looked over the wreckage, which ended up at a chain-link fence in the Southeast corner of the airport.
Philip Dinova of Encino said he was easing into his backswing on the 13th hole of the neighboring Van Nuys Golf Course when he looked across Vanowen Street and saw the Gulfstream skid off the runway. "I saw it hit the grass," said Dinova. "And I thought, oh, this isn't good."