May 18, 2009, Long Beach, Calif., Cessna 310P/Cessna 172N


At about 1801 Pacific time, the two airplanes collided in mid-air over the Pacific Ocean about five miles south of the Long Beach Harbor breakwater wall, coming to rest in about 80 feet of water. The flight instructor and student pilot in the Cessna 172N were killed. The solo airline transport pilot in the Cessna 310P also died. Visual conditions prevailed.

A witness flying in the immediate area reported noticing the 172N at his 10-to-11 oclock position. The airplane appeared to be performing maneuvers and making turns in a counterclockwise direction, followed by a turn in a clockwise direction. The witness altered his course slightly to the right and monitored the Cessnas location. As he looked to his right while turning, he noticed another airplane enter the area from the west, traveling at a high rate of speed on an easterly heading. Due to the sun being almost on the horizon, he was unable to identify the aircraft type, seeing only a “black object.” Shortly afterward, the witness observed the airplanes collide. The witness reported the collision to ATC and circled the area until first responders arrived.


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