Two Planes Crash in Mid-Air—Multiple Deaths

Several people were killed after two planes collided mid-air in California on Thursday afternoon.

A single-engine Cessna 152 and a twin-engine Cessna 340 crashed over Watsonville Municipal Airport, authorities said.

According to a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sent to Newsweek, the planes collided during their final approaches to the airport. City officials said "multiple" people were killed in the crash.

Two people were on board the Cessna 340, and one person was on board the Cessna 152. No injuries were reported on the ground, the FAA said.

While officials have not confirmed the number of fatalities, the Associated Press reported that at least two were killed, while other outlets cited officials as saying that all three people on board the planes were killed.

The city of Watsonville, which lies about 50 miles south of San Jose, said in a statement on Twitter that the crash was reported at 2:56 p.m.

"Multiple agencies responded to Watsonville Municipal Airport after 2 planes attempting to land collided. We have reports of multiple fatalities," it said.

The city said that it is "absolutely saddened to hear about the tragic incident that took the lives of several people."

"The City of Watsonville sends its deepest condolences to the friends and family of those who passed," the post said.

Two Planes Crash in Mid-Air—Multiple Deaths
In this combination image, wreckage from a plane crash lies in a field at Watsonville Municipal Airport in Watsonville, Calif. and inset image from wreckage seen at Municipal Airport, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022. AP

Watsonville Mayor Ari Parker said the city is "grieving tonight from this unexpected and sudden loss."

"I want to express my deepest and most heartfelt condolences," she added.

Audio recorded moments before the collision, reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle, reveals that the two planes were flying close to each other as they attempted to land.

At about 2:54 p.m., the pilot of the twin-engine Cessna 340 said over the radio that he was a mile out from the airport.

"Yeah, I see you're behind me," the pilot of the smaller single-engine Cessna 152 responded, before saying moments later that he had decided to abort his landing attempt.

"I'm gonna go around then, because you're coming at me pretty quick, man," he said.

A third pilot warned other pilots of the collision shortly afterward.

"The twin-engine Cessna was on a long final approach and somebody else was on base turning on final ... approach," another pilot said, discussing the crash, according to the Chronicle. "The twin-engine Cessna didn't see him and he crashed into him. The single-engine went down and the twin-engine rolled into the ground."

The collision is being investigated by the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

"The NTSB is investigating the mid-air collision Thursday between a Cessna 152 and a Cessna 340A in Watsonville, California," the NTSB tweeted.

According to a report published by the Santa Cruz Sentinel, updated in 2018, in the past 30 years, the NTSB has investigated 19 Watsonville airport-related accidents.

Newsweek has reached out to the NTSB for additional comment.

Update 8/19/22 9:06 a.m. ET: This story has been updated to include information from the FAA.