Crash raises concerns from flight school neighbors
By Miriam Raftery
February 14, 2017 (Ramona) – A Cessna registered to the American Aviation Academy and flying out of Gillespie Field as an instructor/student flight on Sunday crashed onto a mountainside in Ramona, killing Shaira Noor, 21, of Bangladesh. She had been training at the academy for nine months. Noor was in the backseat of the Cessna and was impaled by a tree on impact, which killed her instantly.
Two other occupants survived, climbing to an elevated area and using cell phones to call for help, the Sheriff’s department reports.
The Sheriff’s ASTREA helicopter and deputies from the Ramona substation found the crash and helped rescue the two survivors, who were transported to a local hospital. They had minor injuries and are expected to survive, according to Sergeant Andrew Mowins. The deceased woman’s remains were recovered the next day.
Cause of the crash will be determined by an investigation conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
This is not the first time a flight from a Gillespie flight school has crashed. At least two have fallen into nearby neighborhoods in the past couple of years.
“We are only one and a half months into 2017 and Gillespie already has a fatality by a flight school,” says Robert Germann with Citizens Against Gillespie Expansion (CAGE), a vocal critic of flight schools at Gillespie. “Gillespie wants to increase the schools” and train air traffic controllers, he noted, adding, “Gillespie wants to be an instrumented rated airport which means aircraft/pilot training will be taking off/landing at all times of the day/night in bad weather. Is this smart for an airport surrounded by mountains/hills? These mountains are heavily populated.”
Germann also raised concerns over the flight school owner telling a group of citizens worried about low flying aircraft that “Flying is dangerous so live with us flying over your house; if you don’t like it, move.” He fires back, “I then have a problem with his judgment on how he operates his flight school. Does he put his students in unsafe situations in unsafe aircraft?
Germann said he wants to know how many hours of instruction time the instructor had and whether maneuvers were appropriate in the situation given the altitude, terrain, age and power of the aircraft, and weight of the aircraft with three people aboard.