The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has confirmed a single-engine aircraft had a malfunction on its engine, which caused it to land out of control on a beach in Carlsbad just a few minutes past 3 p.m. on Saturday.
The small aircraft, which was seen towing a banner prior to the incident, was said to have flipped over right after it hit the crowded beach. The pilot was initially suspected to have suffered from injuries although this was later on denied by California State Parks Lt. Justin McHenry.
Supervising dispatcher Matthew Pinell of the Carlsbad Police Department said the pilot, who was 23 years old, was taken to the hospital.
It was the 4th of July and the beach was said to be packed with holiday goers. One of them was a 12-year-old boy who was on the ground when it happened. The boy reportedly sustained a gash on his head and had to be taken to a hospital in San Diego.
According to Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the FAA, a Piper PA-18 aircraft hit the beach in Carlsbad on the 4th of July. NBC San Diego reported that the aircraft was owned by Air Ads Inc.
One witness who was identified as Dean Nesbitt said, "He was just coasting, slow as possible, my estimation is 20 to 25 mph. He must have lost all power; he was in total control. [It] didn't look like he was panicking."
Another witness said that beachgoers went off running as they saw the plane going down.
Some of the witnesses also turned to Twitter and posted about the incident.
"Coming to you live from a plane crash at Carlsbad State Beach," tweeted Ava O'Brien (@AvaCheree).
Coming to you live from a plane crash at Carlsbad State Beach pic.twitter.com/wjkzbeoSge
— Ava O'Brien (@AvaCheree) July 5, 2015
"Crash landing in [C]arlsbad," tweeted Cory Vaughn (@coryhvaughn) who also posted a video of the crash site.
Crash landing in carlsbad pic.twitter.com/74mMXbjhnK — Cory Vaughn (@coryhvaughn) July 4, 2015
The Piper PA-18 is a two-seat single-engine aircraft that was introduced back in 1950. It is built with the Continental C-90-12F engine model that delivers 65kW 87hp engine power.
While reports claim that the aircraft lost engine power prior to its crash, some people believe that the pilot seemed too young to fly the plane by himself.
"It was almost silent being that the engine wasn't on and when he came in, hit the sand, it seemed like the right wing was down low and the wave was coming in and caught it all at once and kind of flipped it over," added Nesbitt. "Thank God; it could have been a lot worse."