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3 Die in Plane Crash Near Agua Dulce Airfield

October 21, 2002|From Times Staff Reports

A twin-engine plane crashed shortly after takeoff Sunday from Agua Dulce Air Park, killing three people, authorities said.

The cause of the crash in a remote area east of Palmdale is unknown. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

The identities of the passengers were not released.

Witnesses said the six-seat, Aerostar aircraft never seemed to gain enough power as it left the runway shortly before 1 p.m.

The plane crashed within 15 seconds of liftoff, they said.

"It didn't get off the ground until the very end," said David Aiello, a pilot.

"It veered left through the canyon, disappeared around a little hill ... then boom -- black cloud."

Another witness, Evan Jenkins, said he was preparing food for a barbecue at the airfield when he saw the pilot struggling with the takeoff.

"He barely cleared two houses," Jenkins said. "He fell like a pancake to the ground because he wasn't going fast enough."

Several people ran to the scene, but they were unable to rescue the pilot and passengers, trapped in the flames.

Jenkins and Aiello said the pilot and passengers were not regulars at the small airport in Agua Dulce. They believed the plane originally took off from Whiteman Airport in Pacoima.

Whiteman Airport officials could not confirm the information.

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