Small plane crashes near Dumbarton Bridge

Pilot survives after Cessna 140 crashes after takeoff from Palo Alto Airport

A man in his 50s walked away unscathed after his plane crashed into mud flats near the eastern end of the Dumbarton Bridge Saturday afternoon, authorities said.

The plane is registered to a Menlo Park man, but it is unknown whether he was the pilot.

The pilot of a single-engine Cessna 140 reported a loss of engine power at about 12:40 p.m. after taking off from the Palo Alto Airport, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.

The man piloting the plane, a retired commercial pilot with about 30,000 hours of flight experience, was planning on going to Illinois, but instead tried to turn around and make it back to the airport, Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said.

But the plane didn't make it back and landed in soft mud near the bridge shortly after 1 p.m., Schapelhouman said.

The plane overturned after the crash landing, but the pilot, the lone occupant, managed to get out safely, Schapelhouman said.

An "Everglades-style" rescue boat from the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, the only one in the South Bay, responded and rescued the man, who appears to be uninjured, according to Schapelhouman.

The fire district is working with state Fish and Game and U.S. Coast Guard officials to handle fuel and oil that is leaking from the upside-down aircraft, Schapelhouman said.

There was about 21 gallons of fuel and five gallons of oil on the plane, he said.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash. Schapelhouman said authorities were still deciding Saturday afternoon whether to remove the aircraft from the site, or leave it there for federal investigators.

The owner of the plane will ultimately be responsible for the cost of the cleanup, Schapelhouman said.

Were you at the scene? Send us your photos.

— Bay City News Service

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