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2 Hurt as Small Plane Crashes at John Wayne

November 08, 2002|Phil Willon and Vivian LeTran | Times Staff Writers

A single-engine plane crash-landed at John Wayne Airport on Thursday afternoon, injuring the pilot and a passenger and closing a runway for more than two hours.

The V-tailed Beech Bonanza crashed about 1:45 p.m. north of the airport's two runways, within sight of the San Diego Freeway. Airport rescue workers doused the plane with fire-suppressing foam and pulled the two people from the crumpled plane, airport officials said.

The pilot and plane's owner, Timothy E. Kjenstad, and his unidentified female passenger were taken by ambulance to Western Medical Center-Santa Ana and listed in moderate condition Thursday evening. Kjenstad, a firefighter from Henderson, Nev., suffered cuts to his face, and the passenger had fractures to her ankle and wrist, said hospital spokeswoman Sonoma Van Brunt. "They are awake and up and talking ... which is good news," Van Brunt said.

Commercial aircraft continued to take off and land on the airport's long runway without disruption Thursday afternoon. However, airport officials temporarily closed the short runway used by general aviation aircraft to inspect it for debris, said Ann McCarley, an airport spokeswoman.

McCarley said the crash was being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board, which authorized airport officials to move the significantly damaged aircraft to the west area of the airport.

A witness said the plane was "coming in low" when it crash-landed in a dirt patch short of the runway.

Tom Donaldson, manager of the Henderson Executive Airport in Nevada, confirmed that the 47-year-old F35 Beech Bonanza is based there but said he did not know Kjenstad. Airport workers saw Kjenstad leave Wednesday but had not seen him since, and they did not know his flight plan, Donaldson said.

Times staff writer Scott Martelle contributed to this report.

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