Departing Plane Crashes Near San Lorenzo Homes

JUNE 27, 2006

An airplane taking off from Hayward Executive Airport Sunday afternoon crashed near San Lorenzo Village homes. The Cessna 210 lost engine power after ascending about 200 feet into the air and plunged into the 18th hole of the Skywest Golf Course shortly after 4 p.m. The golf course separates the airport and San Lorenzo homes.

The pilot was identified as Robert Hughes Franklin, 58, of Castro Valley by the FAA. Franklin owns Aerial Services, a banner-towing company based in Livermore. The Cessna 210 is registered to Team Builders Inc., a company headquartered in Henderson, Nevada, according to the FAA.

Both wings of the aircraft appeared to have been severed by trees, according to one observer.

Franklin escaped with no serious injury in the accident, but the aircraft sustained extensive damage. No one at the golf course was injured.

A pilot on the ground, David Morris, observed the Cessna crash into the golf course. "The engine failed and started popping," said Morris, who believed the craft was stuttering because of "fuel starvation." "Then one of the engines completely quit. I saw him bank to the right. Then the next thing the fire trucks were coming."

"I don't think he was going that fast," Morris said. "I think that's what saved him. You hate to see this thing happen. If it was a mechanical problem, the poor guy couldn't do anything." Rick Silva, the manager of Skywest Golf Course, said the plane landed on the fairway of the 18th green and caused virtually no damage. "We were very lucky and (the pilot) was very lucky," Silva said.

Earlier on Sunday afternoon a 74-year-old Livermore man was killed when he was struck by the propeller of the same aircraft. Crew member David Herrington had just exited the banner-towing plane at the airport when he was "clipped" by the plane's propeller, said Lt. Reid Lindblom, a spokesman with the Hayward Police Department.

Reached at his business on Monday, Franklin said he had known Herrington for about five years. He said he believed that Herrington walked into the propeller. "It hasn't been a good couple of days," Franklin said. He declined to comment any further to the Daily Review.

Mike Fergus, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Oakland Flight Standards District Office are investigating both incidents. An NTSB representative told the Daily Review that field investigators were expected to file a preliminary report within the next few days.

Fergus said any time a propeller strikes a foreign object, it can damage the crankshaft and cause a plane's engine to fail. FAA protocol requires any aircraft that has been involved in a "propeller strike" to be inspected by a mechanic before taking to the air. "We are in an investigative mode on that," Fergus said. "We don't know if that took place or not."

Source: Based on Daily Review article