Wild West at Oceanside Airport

Monday night's death in fog

The single engine plane crashed into a ridge about 125 feet above Highway 76.
  • The single engine plane crashed into a ridge about 125 feet above Highway 76.

Tim Broom was not happy that a small plane crashed about 700 yards from his home near Highway 76. But when his interview aired on News 8’s 11 pm Tuesday night newscast, he could not hide his “I told you so” stance.

Broom, a computer systems analyst, told News 8 reporter Heather Hope that he and other neighbors had filed over 200 complaints with the city of Oceanside over the last seven years warning of “dangerous activities” connected with the airport.

This airport is completely unregulated and without an air traffic control tower.

This airport is completely unregulated and without an air traffic control tower.

“It’s just a matter of time before we have an accident with fatalities,” Broom said he had told the Federal Aviation Administration and the City of Oceanside about the small airport that is home to some 83 small planes but too close to houses and traffic.

The single engine Piper PA-28 crashed into a ridge about 125 feet above Highway 76 about 9 pm on Monday, January 28 but was not discovered until about 7 the next morning. The pilot was killed and the passenger is in serious condition and remains at Scripps La Jolla. Names of the deceased pilot or injured passenger were not released as of press time.

Broom says that the “wild west, anything goes” atmosphere that surrounds the Oceanside airport is a “nightmare…According to [Jared] Foti [assistant airport manager] their video cameras showed the aircraft may have taken off in the fog.”

Foti admitted that the plane took off during poor visibility but that this airport is completely unregulated and without an air traffic control tower. He says that planes that are based there or planes from anywhere else can come and go as they please, any time of the day or night.

“We are not air traffic controlled,” says Foti. “That is a common misperception.”

A Federal Aviation Administration website says the plane was owned by Vista resident Robert Ventura. Foti says the plane was not normally stored at the Oceanside Airport but in fact landed at the Oceanside Airport and took off again Monday evening just before the fatal crash.

Broom says he and his neighbors in Oceanside’s Eastside neighborhood have been tormented by low flying aircraft who often fly low to their homes. Planes departing the Oceanside Airport are only allowed to fly west, generally over the San Luis Rey River, and not fly above nearby homes to the north or south. Broom says he has documented numerous such violations “...but for the most part the behavior continues.”

Oceanside Airport manager Dennis Easto says if the plane is based at his airport and they are caught flying over homes he could give them written warnings. He says if a plane gets three warnings they could be asked to terminate their agreement to keep their plane in Oceanside. He says that he has not yet had to banish anyone.

Easto says there is nothing to keep planes from other airports or flight training schools to come and use the Oceanside’s runway for practice landings at any time of day or night.

In August Oceanside resident Drew Andrioff addressed the city council saying that because the airport is so close to houses, the city should think twice about allowing GoJump Oceanside (which is based at the Oceanside Airport) to continue to dump skydivers over Highway 76.

Andrioff said he and at least three neighbors have had skyjumper debris including shoes, cameras and parachutes fall in their yards. GoJump drops skydivers five days a week, with as many as 250 drops each on Saturday and Sunday. Broom took a photo of one GoJumper skydiver who overshot the drop zone and landed on Highway 76. In 2013 one jumper was hurt after landing on a fence, and another drifted onto Camp Pendleton and was escorted off base by armed Marines.

Broom says in his opinion there are much better options for the 43 acres used by the Oceanside airport. But he maintains there is absolutely no way the airport should continue to be run as such an “unstructured entity. This accident proves that anybody can and will do anything they want anytime of the day,” says Broom. “Want to take off when its foggy? No problem! And who’s to say that cash and drugs aren’t being run out of the airport at 2 in the morning?”

Oceanside Airport Assistant manager Foti says Oceanside Airport is the only airport that is not part of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority that oversees the smaller airports at Fallbrook, Ramona, Carlsbad (Palomar), Gillespie, and Montgomery Fields. The Oceanside Airport is run by Airport Property Ventures LLC (a division of KDG Construction Consulting of Glendale) which was awarded a 50-year contract to operate the Oceanside Airport about ten years ago.

“Don’t get me wrong,” says Broom. “I really feel sorry for the pilot who unfortunately lost his life in this avoidable tragedy. But I feel it’s now time to have a productive conversation on how to make Oceanside safer for residents who live in the proximity.”

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Hard to believe in our post-9/11 world this laxity over air flight continues. Crazy.

There are thousands of small uncontrolled airports in the US. Some controlled airports "close" at night. One can still fly in/out but, like Oceanside, it is VFR rules.

Which came first, the airport or the houses? I actually don't know, which is why I bring it up.

The homes came first, some I believe were built in the 1950's. Over the last 5 years there have been numerous complaints filed and made in public at City Council meetings of unsafe practices, flying as low as 40-ft. over rooftops in the Eastside neighborhood, sky-divers landing on Hwy. 76 in traffic, falling backpacks, GoPro cameras, shoes, etc. landing in people's yards while children are there. These aren't just neighbors visually observing these things, this is actual flight data being tracked at the suggestion of the airport so it can be reported. Although it was suggested that the airport should "check people's pockets" before they go sky-diving, that's hardly sufficient when there's no tower, no air traffic control (what's to prevent a plane from taking off or landing as sky-divers descend?) There's no security to monitor or regulate these practices. Why are pilots flying up this hillside over Eastside anyway when there's nothing at the top of the hill except residential homes? This is likely a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Air traffic control does prevent planes from flying near oceanside airport when sky diving is active. It's also located in the for of NOTAMS (notice to airmen) and located on aviation charts. There have been no accidents due to these procedures

If the pilot had just missed the top of ridge he would have flown into the house directly opposite the ridge. Had that happened this would have been a much greater tragedy.

The Eastside and the Eastside Capistrano neighborhood where here before the current Oceanside airport was moved to its existing location from the area just off Industrial St.

The Hi-Hi airport at the old location down where Waste Management is located has been closed since the late 1950's.

200 general aviation deaths per year, with another 150 collateral damage deaths on the ground or as passengers is acceptable. Have you told the dead pilots' family from Yorba Linda this?

Using your logic Brady LaPlante at any moment a car can suddenly launch itself silently and without warning into your house from a road 1/2 mile away due to an unlicensed driver. And, it would be OK because 100-150 people that supported that roadway said that you should just 'deal with it.'

But we all get that Brady, you have been a licensed pilot since October of 2014. It probably scares you to handle your radio while attempting an approach into controlled airspace, I hear ya brother!

To Linda Fitzgibbon....certainly Mr. Broom is outspoken about this. But what about Drew Andrioff who spoke before the council last summer when debris from a GoJump diver almost hit his 4 year daughter playing in the backyard and he said stuff falls out of the sky from Gojumpers all the time in his neighborhood. The fact is, this seems to be a completely unregulated strip of land with lights along it that calls itself an airport. There are others besides Mr. Broom who are surprised at how loosey goosey this "airport" is. It is supposed to be run by this company out of Burbank that never seems to be there. Anything goes here and the natives are starting to get restless. It was said in print last summer that this was an accident waiting to happen. Oops. It just did. Sure hope the poor passenger who is still in the hospital doesn't think he can sue Oceanside over this.

R.I.P. for the pilot. The worst argument any aviator can make is “We we’re here first” It is such a selfish statement but unfortunately it is a argument pilots make repeadly. It shows a total lack of concern for the community that help build the airport. This selfishness is exactly why communities are moving and closing General Aviation Airports. In Oceanside the land is simply to valuable to justify 83 aircraft on 43 acres of Prime Property. Of those 83 aircraft 1/2 probably fly less than 40 hrs a Year, if they fly at all. It doesn’t make any difference what you are certified for, if you run out of fuel! Robert

Is this the same Linda Fitzgibbon who worked for airport operator APV until August of last year?

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