Two Aircraft Collide In California While Departing Airport

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

Three people died near San Diego last Wednesday, when a Cessna 172RG and a Cessna 182 collided in midair at about 4:40 p.m. Nobody on the ground was hurt, though flaming debris fell into a residential area and set a home on fire. A pilot and instructor in the 172RG, owned by Scandinavian Aviation Academy at Gillespie Field, were on an instrument training flight. They have not been identified but are believed to have been from Sweden. They filed an instrument flight plan out of Gillespie, bound for Brown Field on a familiarization flight. Instrument departure routing at Gillespie can direct aircraft in a climbing arc back over the field, a local controller told AVweb. The 182 flown by William Kupiec, 68, of La Jolla, departed VFR from Gillespie approximately one minute behind the 172RG. The two aircraft later met at about 2,300 feet, roughly three miles from Gillespie. So, whatever the path of the instrument departure from Gillespie, that route (plus the one-minute time interval between it and Kupiec's departure) conspired to create an intersection with Kupiec's route at a specific point over El Cajon, Calif. When both aircraft arrived at that point at the same exact time, tragedy struck. Kupiec was on the second leg of his flight that began that day at Montgomery Field, in San Diego. Authorities referred to it as a "pleasure flight." Clearly it was anything but.