New Details in Fatal Plane Midair Collision Near Brown Field

The National Transportation Safety Board investigators' preliminary report suggests the pilots killed in a midair plane collision earlier this month did not see each other in the skies above Brown Field.

A twin-engine Sabreliner and a single-engine Cessna 172 were destroyed when the planes collided August 16 near Brown Field Municipal Airport. Two pilots and two mission specialists on the Sabreliner and the pilot of the Cessna died in the crash.

The report refers to one witness who said the planes "did not appear to have made any avoidance actions prior to the collision."

The witness also stated that the Cessna broke apart in the air while the Sabreliner banked left and exploded once it hit the ground.

The two planes crashed at different wreckage sites at least a mile apart from each other. The Sabreliner crashed on a grassy slope and the Cessna fell within the bounds of what authorities said is a wildlife preserve.

In the report released Thursday, NTSB investigators say the wing of the Sabreliner was found in the debris field of the Cessna.

Both planes had departed from Brown Field earlier in the day with the Sabreliner filing a flight plan. The Cessna 172 did not have a flight plan on file, officials said.

“A controller in the SDM air traffic control tower (ATCT) was in contact with both accident airplanes prior to the collision,” officials said in the report.

The Sabreliner was leased by military contractor BAE Systems on a mission training flight and carried two pilots and two mission specialists.

Carlos Palos, John Kovach, Jeff Percy and James Henry Hale were aboard the Sabreliner. Michael A. Copeland, 55, of San Diego, was piloting the Cessna.

Read the preliminary report here.

Contact Us