At around 12:20 p.m. Pacific time, air traffic control audio recorded by LiveATC suggested a routine departure was followed soon after takeoff by a mechanical concern. The accident flight departed Runway 12 and made left turns to the downwind, then extended that downwind while climbing to 2,000 feet, according to ADS-B data recorded byFlightAware. Less than 3 minutes after departure, the tower controller approved a frequency change. The pilot responded with “roger,” but then requested to remain on the tower frequency:
“Juliet-Bravo would like to stay over the airport. My gear didn’t retract all the way.” The tower controller asked the accident pilot if he wanted to climb to 2,500 feet. The pilot stated intent to do just that, climb to 2,500 and “circle the airport.” ATC cleared the flight to climb 2,500 and fly “left-hand racetrack pattern” bounded and defined by visual landmarks including Interstate Highway 210, Interstate Highway 5, and the “four-stacks.” The accident pilot repeated back the instructions.
About two minutes after that, the tower controller can be heard on the recording attempting to contact “Skymaster 3JB, Whiteman Tower, how do you hear?” The message was repeated, with no response.
About 20 seconds later, the tower controller told another aircraft in the pattern, “I just saw that Skymaster fall out of the sky, there, ahead to your right…is he on the freeway?” A Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter based at the airport soon signed on and departed to investigate the accident site.
FlightAware ADS-B data indicates the flight never climbed above 2,000 feet, and leveled off at that altitude with speed decaying down to 69 knots on the final return.
The Los Angeles Fire Department reported that the aircraft was located on an embankment along the norhtbound side of Interstate 210 in Sylmar, California.
The Skymaster, N143JB, is registered to John King of Torrance, California. The pilot killed in the accident has not been identified. There is no indication this person has any connection to King Schools, founded by John and Martha King, who are based elsewhere. The accident flight’s destination is unknown and the cause of the crash is being investigated by the FAA and NTSB.