Plane Crash Update

By: James Steiner
By: James Steiner

It may be months before we know what caused a small plane to crash into a home in Spanish Springs on Thursday night.

Federal Investigators were out at the home Friday morning on Kinglet Drive, taking a look at the crash. They also interviewed the pilot and his passenger, who weren't hurt in the accident.

News Channel 8 was told the wreckage won't be lifted from the house until sometime Saturday morning...and taken back to an undisclosed hangar for a full investigation.

Some residents and even airport managers claim the accident should never have happened in the first place.

These comments stem from a decade-long battle among homeowners, the Spanish Springs Airport, Washoe County, and the developer: Hawko and Barker Coleman. All parties blame one another.

But, this accident forces us to see the bottom line...planes take off and land dangerously close to homes.

However, Airport Manager Max Bartmess mentions that the airport has been part of the Spanish Springs community for the past 35 years...long before there were any homes built near the runway.

"We did not build an airport next to a subdivision," Bartmess says. "And that's the facts of the whole thing."

But homeowners claim the airport is not following the contract it made with the developer, which at the time was Hawko, but then later bought by Barker-Coleman.

The plan required planes to have a specific flight pattern. Weather permitting, they would land from the south and take off to the north, away from homes. Many residents like Danny Gonzalez say planes often do just the opposite.

"On every given day the planes don't land the correct way," Gonzalez says. "This morning I saw a plane land over a house in the direction it wasn't supposed to land."

As far as Thursday night's accident, airport managers say the pilot did everything right...including attempting to land on Runway 16, from the south. They say he just overshot the runway.

"He was too long so he tried to make a go around," Bartmess says. "This wasn't a take-off. This was an aborted landing."

But the FAA is still investigating the crash...and airport officials and homeowners say this should be a wake-up call that something needs to be done.

"Is it going to take someone to die in order for a change?" Gonzalez wonders.

County officials say they allowed the subdivision to be built, based on an FAA study of the area which stated it wasn't a hazard zone. They say it was the responsibility of Barker-Coleman to let homeowners know they were two hundred yards from an airport runway.


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