A former mayor of Santa Monica, Rex Minter, 95, died after the Cessna 150A in which he was a passenger flipped during a forced landing on Santa Monica Beach just south of the pier on Thursday. The unidentified pilot is in a local hospital. The pilot requested a return to Santa Monica Airport just after takeoff, citing a rough-running engine. He was trying to line up on Runway 3 but told the tower he couldn’t make the field and was heading for the beach.

The tide was going out and there was a wide swath of hard-packed sand the pilot might have been aiming for but it settled in the breakers. First responders were on the scene within minutes and both men were taken to a local hospital, but Minter died. Minter had a long career in public service, joining the city council in 1955, serving as mayor from 1963 to 1967 and as a city attorney and judge after that.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. If the ocean wasn’t so near the shore this would not have happened. If “lead spilling, CO2 producing” airplanes were banned this would not have happened. If airplanes were made out of sponge rubber this would not have happened.

  2. Well, if you could figure out how to build a new airplane that the “average” pilot could afford without winning the lottery, I would gladly ditch my 48-year-old Cessna and get a new and (hopefully) more reliable one!

  3. Honestly, it looked like they had zero good options with an engine failure where it happened. You throw the dice and hope you live through it. I was thinking of this very store as I was flying home last night on Christmas night that if I had an engine failure that there was really no “good options” at night over the dark Texas brush country. Ya glide down at the darkest area and hope for the best.

  4. I would never have thought to land perpendicular to the shore line, but maybe that was his only option??

  5. Landing on wet/hard sand is a great option, unfortunately it was a nice day with plenty of people on the beach. The pilot made the decision to not endanger people on the ground by landing in the surf. RIP Rex Minter

    • Pilot had the approach nailed; on speed, etc., but just too many beachgoers. You wonder what the seat belt configuration in the old 150A was. Sholder restraint is everything in this sort of crash.

  6. With no disrespect for Mr Minter or his family, when my time on this earth is up, flying onto a beach in Santa Monica at sunset doesn’t sound like a bad way to go. One last flight, one last beach, one last sunset, rest in peace Mr Minter.

    • Might beat one last diaper change that you’re not even aware of…

      Hitting a # with an 8 in front of it is pretty darn good, let alone a 9.

  7. It might be more accurate to say that the man died “during” an on-going emergency-landing/plane crash. He was described as being in a condition of “cardiac arrest” … It was not claimed that death occurred as the result of blunt-force-trauma or drowning.
    Another case of inaccurate plane-crash-reporting as usual.