On June 19, 1994, about 2314 hours Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 152, N761GZ, crashed into the ocean after takeoff from the Half Moon Bay Airport, Half Moon Bay, California. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) cross-country personal flight to Palo Alto, California, when the accident occurred. The airplane, registered to the pilot and operated by the West Valley Flying Club, Palo Alto, was destroyed. The certificated private pilot received fatal injuries. A passenger on board was not recovered and is presumed to have received fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) operations inspector, Oakland Flight Standards District Office, reported that following departure, witnesses reported hearing an engine sound increase and observed the airplane descend out of overcast cloud conditions about 800 to 1,000 feet above the ground. Several witnesses reported that the airplane was spinning. The airplane collided with the water in a steep, nose-down attitude.
Personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard conducted a search operation for any survivors, with negative results. The search was centered on floating debris about 2 miles south of the airport and about 1 mile from the shoreline.
Search personnel from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, Redwood City, California, conducted several search operations utilizing divers and side-scanning sonar. The aircraft was not located.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. The most recent third-class medical certificate was issued to the pilot on October 13, 1992, and contained the limitation that the pilot must have available correcting glasses for near vision.
The pilot's personal flight logbook was not recovered. According to the pilot/operator report submitted by the operator, the pilot's total aeronautical experience consists of about 1,000 hours, of which 800 were accrued in the accident aircraft make and model. In the 90 days preceding the accident, the pilot had accrued about 4.8 hours in the accident aircraft.
The flight log sheets maintained by the operator were carried in the airplane and were not recovered. According to the airplane's logbooks, the last entry in the maintenance logs was April 22, 1994, when an oil change and minor airframe maintenance was performed. At that time, the airplane had accumulated a total time in service of 6,868 flight hours. The most recent annual inspection of the airframe and engine was accomplished on December 30, 1993, 48 flight hours before the last inspection. At the time of the last inspection, the engine had accrued a total time in service of 6,000 hours of operation. The maintenance records note that a major overhaul was accomplished on April 26, 1993, 250 hours of operation before the accident.
The operator's records indicated that the accident aircraft was fueled on June 14, 1994, with 15.1 gallons of fuel. It is unknown if the airplane had been refueled by the pilot since that date.
The closest official weather observation station is San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California, which is located 9 nautical miles northeast of the accident site. At 2300 hours, a surface observation was reporting in part: Sky condition and ceiling, 800 feet scattered clouds, measured ceiling, 1,100 feet broken, 25,000 feet broken; visibility, 12 miles; temperature, 55 degrees F; dew point, 51 degrees F; wind, 300 degrees at 10 knots; altimeter, 30.01 inHg.
The Half Moon Bay airport has a published elevation of 67 feet mean sea level. The airport is equipped a single hard-surfaced runway on a 120/300 degree magnetic orientation. Runway 12 is 5,000 feet long by 150 feet wide. The departure path from runway 12 places aircraft over the Pillar Point Harbor of Half Moon Bay.
The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office conducted a missing persons investigation to establish the airplane occupants' identities. Their investigation revealed that the pilot and passenger had flown to Half Moon Bay for dinner and were to return to Palo Alto on the accident date.
On July 22, 1994, the pilot was recovered from the ocean beach area of Half Moon Bay, west of Miranda Avenue. A post mortem examination of the pilot was conducted by the San Mateo County Coroner's Office, 401 Marshall, Redwood City, California, on July 23, 1994. The passenger has not been recovered.