Palo Alto Aviators Reach Out After Tragedy

It’s been six weeks since a small plane crashed into an East Palo Alto neighborhood on a foggy Wednesday morning, killing three people on board. But plenty of reminders of the devastating crash still linger.

Burned bushes remain in front of a two-story home at 1180 Beech St., where part of the twin-engine Cessna 310 crashed down the morning of Feb. 17 after the plane struck PG&E power lines and an electrical tower nearby.

The crash killed Tesla employees Douglas Bourn, 56, Brian Finn, 42, and Andrew Ingram, 31. No one on the ground was injured.

Sergio Silva, 32, who lives at 1245 Beech St., said he and his family are “doing fine,” even though they are still shaken.

“Our family has been a little paranoid every time we hear an airplane,” Silva said. “We notice them more now than before.”

His family was lucky; a piece of glass fell on their front yard, but their house was otherwise untouched.

Silva’s mother was in her car in the driveway when the crash happened.

“My mom witnessed the whole thing,” he said. “She was a bit traumatized.”

One of the plane’s wings landed next door in the rear of a home that serves as a day care center. That home is still uninhabitable.

A man who lives at 1172 Beech St. said the truck he used to recycle metal was destroyed in the plane crash. On Thursday, however, the man was sitting in the back of a new truck, sorting through metal to recycle once again.

The truck was bought for him — along with six months’ insurance — by the Palo Alto Airport Association, which raised about $10,000 for residents impacted by the crash, association President Ralph Britton said.

The nonprofit group, comprised of pilots, aircraft owners and others associated with Palo Alto Airport, would like to give even more.

“We are looking into making an additional contribution to a resident whose motor home was damaged,” Britton said. “But we have to raise more money first.”

He said the crash was a major loss to the airport community, and said the pilot, Bourn, had been flying out of Palo Alto Airport for a long time.

“Our wishes are with both the families and the company,” Britton said.

The group has heard from community members concerned about the flight path of planes flying out of the airport since the crash, he said. The association has suggested alternate departure paths, though it is up to the Federal Aviation Administration to implement any changes.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said Thursday the agency has no plans to alter the airport’s flight paths or make airspace changes around Palo Alto.

Britton said noise abatement measures are also in place.

David Creemer, chair of the Joint Community Relations Committee that serves as a liaison between the city of Palo Alto, Santa Clara County and the Palo Alto Airport, said that since the crash, he has stepped up efforts to make sure residents know how and where to voice their concerns.

He has attended parent meetings at two East Palo Alto schools since the crash to “let them know that we’re here for answering questions.”

The committee holds public meetings at 8 a.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at the West Valley Flying Club at the airport.