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Empty fuel tank
likely cause of fatal plane crash Feb. 9
February 16, 2005
The official verdict
won't be in for about a year, but an empty fuel tank was the
likely cause of the Feb. 9 crash that killed a San Francisco man
at the Rooster Run Golf Course last
week, an airport official said.
Mann, 56, of
San Francisco, died instantly when his single-engine Grumman
Tiger crash-landed into a stretch of green near the 18th hole.
The crash took place shortly after takeoff from the nearby
Petaluma Municipal Airport, at about 4 p.m. last Wednesday.
Michael Glose, who followed the National Transportation Safety
Board and FAA investigation closely, said there was no fuel in
the aircraft's right tank. Though there was fuel in Mann's left
tank, fuel exhaustion was the probable cause of the engine
sputtering and stopping that witnesses described, Glose said.
"He was low and slow.
It was a classic stall and spin accident," the airport manager
said, adding that it generally takes the NTSB a year before they
issue a final report.
witnesses, the plane was flying at about 100 feet when the
engine started making sputtering sounds.
Phillips, who was
just finishing a round of golf at the 18th hole, looked up in
time to see the plane flying low towards him, wobbling from side
"There was a backfire
and then the engine quit," Phillips said. The plane was
traveling at a very slow speed when it suddenly just dropped to
the right side, hit the ground and spun around, he said.
Rich McConnell, who was working on a roof across the road
from the golf course, said he saw the plane coming in low and
heard a "big bang," followed by a lot of ducks that flew off
quacking from an adjacent pond.
Mann was killed on
impact and his German shepherd dog was ejected from the aircraft
and landed on the golfing green. The dog died a few minutes
later, Phillips said.
The pilot was not
well known around the airport, though he had rented a tie-down
space there since at least 2003, Glose said.
The fatal take-off
was not Mann's first take-off of the day, the airport manager
said. According to witnesses he had been doing touch-and-go
landings, and was on his third take-off when the accident
Crashes near and at
the airport occur occasionally. The last fatality at the airport
itself was in December 2002, and 12 years ago a plane crashed
into what is now Rooster Run, near where the clubhouse is today,
Though there have
been no plane crashes into homes or playing fields near the
airport that he's aware of, Glose said crashes can occur
"There's always that
potential, but it could happen in my back yard as well as
yours," he said, adding that he lives far from the runway.
(Contact Emily Brady
A single-engine plane crashed on a
Petaluma golf course Wednesday, killing the
pilot and his German shepherd dog.
The pilot of the Grumman Tiger was
identified by authorities as Roger Stephen
Mann, 56, of San Francisco. Witnesses told
police that the two-seat plane had been
taking off from the Petaluma Airport at 3:58
p.m, when it sputtered, lost power and
crashed on the 18th fairway of the Rooster
Run Golf Club.
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