A Sabreliner Jet And A Cessna 172 Collided In Mid-Air Near San Diego

Illustration for article titled A Sabreliner Jet And A Cessna 172 Collided In Mid-Air Near San Diego

A mid-sized twin engine Sabreliner jet like the one pictured above has collided with a light single engine Cessna 172 near the community of Otay Mesa, which is just north of the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Sheriffs have confirmed that three are dead at the scene, with no survivors aboard either aircraft.

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We don’t know details of the registrations of either aircraft at this time, but we do know that two aboard the Sabreliner and one aboard the Cessna perished at the time of the incident. A small brush fire was sparked when the wrecked aircraft impacted the ground. One firefighter who responded to the crash site was taken to the hospital with heat-related minor injuries (the local temperature in San Diego is 95 degrees today).

The incident occurred near historic Brown Field Municipal Airport, which can be seen near the top of the satellite image below.

Illustration for article titled A Sabreliner Jet And A Cessna 172 Collided In Mid-Air Near San Diego

Satellite image of Otay Mesa, a neighborhood in southern San Diego, CA.

The Sabreliner was originally manufactured by North American, and later sold as a Rockwell product. Over 800 examples have been produced since the aircraft first entered service in 1962. Many variants of the jet exist, including several designed for training military pilots and radar operators.

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Illustration for article titled A Sabreliner Jet And A Cessna 172 Collided In Mid-Air Near San Diego

A Cessna 172 Skyhawk in flight over Bristol, England.

The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is an extremely popular aircraft, with over 40,000 produced since its introduction in 1956. Cessna continues to manufacture the 172 to this day, albeit with many upgrades from the original version. The aircraft has also been used in military applications, primarily as a trainer or aerial surveillance platform.

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Photo credit: Sabreliner top shot - André Du-pont (Mexico Air Spotters)/Wikicommons, Cessna 172 in flight - Adrian Pingstone/Wikicommons

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DISCUSSION

fanofturbofan
fanofturbofan

I spent a good deal of time flying around the San Diego area (Montgomery Field, Brown Field, Gillespie Field, etc), and this doesn’t surprise me one bit. There are lot of private jets from Mexico that fly into Brown - I’m assuming for Customs purposes? - and because it is so close to the border, as well as the neighboring Lindbergh Class-B airspace, it makes that tiny little chunk of airspace very tight, and unfortunately, very crowded at times. The airport itself has a control tower, but it doesn’t have radar (since it’s only class-D and it depends on SoCal TRACON for any of those services), so even though they may have called the traffic, either pilot wouldn’t have been able to see it. My guess is that the Sabreliner came up on the 172 on its way to join the pattern, and the speed difference made positive contact extremely difficult. There are safe guards in place, but sometimes things just happen - I wouldn’t be surprised if a language barrier had something to do with it. I’ve flown in Mexico, and it’s quite frightening if you’re not used to it.