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2 men killed in crash at Santa Monica Airport are identified

Friends say Paulo Emanuele, 46, and Martin Schaedel, 23, were aboard the aerobatic plane that crashed Wednesday.

January 30, 2009|Jia-Rui Chong

Los Angeles County coroner's officials worked Thursday to confirm the identities of two men killed in a plane crash at Santa Monica Airport, but friends of the two men identified them as the general manager of an aviation website and a world-traveling Internet business development consultant.

Paulo Emanuele, believed to be 46, was the general manager of the airliners.net website. Martin Schaedel, believed to be about 23, was a consultant to FareCompare, an airline fare comparison website.

The red, single-engine Marchetti airplane carrying the two men crashed at the west end of the runway about 5 p.m. Wednesday. The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the crash, but the plane appeared to have lost engine power shortly after takeoff, said Patrick Jones, the NTSB's investigator in charge.

A fire destroyed most of the plane.

Jones would not confirm the identities of the people on board. As of Thursday evening, the coroner's office had not released their names.

Two of Schaedel's friends said they had spoken with his parents in Sweden, who had been in touch with the coroner's office.

"They feel helpless they're all the way in Sweden," said Megan O'Brien of West Hollywood, with whom Schaedel was staying during his visit to Southern California.

"He was such a young guy."

Schaedel never returned Wednesday night, and the sweaters he had washed the night before were still drying on chairs in O'Brien's dining room.

"He was so sweet and knowledgeable and such a smart guy," O'Brien said.

At Schaedel's blog, the young man described himself as a former partner in a venture capital company, now focused on buyouts, mergers and acquisitions.

Schaedel told O'Brien that he wanted to take flying lessons, and O'Brien told him she was worried.

He took his first lesson Tuesday and returned elated.

On Thursday, she kept thinking back to a conversation they had three days ago, when Schaedel was driving O'Brien's car very fast and she told him to slow down.

"He said, 'I don't want you to ever worry about me. If I die in a fiery crash, at least I would do what I loved,' " she said.

Rick Seaney, chief executive of FareCompare who also spoke with Schaedel's parents, said Schaedel loved to jet around the world, in part to boost his airline mileage, which helped him qualify for elite frequent-flier programs.

An announcement identifying Emanuele went up on his company's website Wednesday night, telling visitors, "Paulo attempted to return to the airport, but the plane crashed on the runway."

By Thursday evening, more than 350 people had posted sympathy notes from around the world.

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jia-rui.chong@latimes.com

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