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Plane crash victim said to be aviation website chief [UPDATED]

Coroner's officials were working this morning to confirm the identities of two men killed in a plane crash Wednesday at the Santa Monica Airport, but friends said one of the men was Paulo Emanuele, general manager of the website www.airliners.net.

The red, two-seat Marchetti SF-260 airplane that crashed on the west end of the runway is registered to Malibu-based Wingspan Inc., but Assistant Chief Ed Winter of the Los Angeles County coroner's office said officials believe neither of the men was the registered owner.

An announcement went up on the aviation-interest website about 8:45 p.m. Wednesday night, telling visitors that Emanuele's "plane took off out of Santa Monica Airport at 5:00 PM and lost power. Paulo attempted to return to the airport, but the plane crashed on the runway."

The website referred to Paulo as "an amazing Pilot, an amazing photographer, an amazing friend, and an amazing father. He will be deeply missed." The website listed the year of his birth as 1962. On the homepage, the website posted photos of Emanuele with friends and in the cockpit.

It posted a link to his profile, in which he called himself "deeplight" and listed his hobbies as "Yak's, Marchetti's, Hughes 500's, Adventure a la Airstreams." The last photo he posted from the site was from a red Marchetti plane -- the same type that authorities said crashed Wednesday.

By 7 a.m. today, people had posted more than 200 sympathy notes from all over the world. One poster named "DingDong" wrote: "Sleep well, Paulo -- you served so many in the finest tradition. Greatest of respect for your numerous accomplishments, and sincerest condolences to family and friends of those left behind. You have indeed slipped the surly bonds of earth, and must be dancing the skies atop your laughter-silvered wings."

Other aviation forums, including x-plane.org, also posted the news. A friend named "Viper" said Emanuele was survived by two daughters and a wife. "If you wish to do something in his honor, please donate an old pair of glasses to your favorite charity, so that 'one who cannot see clearly, may have a better opportunity to see what a wonderful world we truly have,'" Viper wrote.

The two men were the only people in the aircraft, Winter said. He added that the bodies were "extremely charred," making positive identification difficult. Coroner's officials were still trying to reach family members.

Witnesses said they saw the plane fall nose-down in a fiery crash. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

Updated at 11:20 a.m.: Bob Trimborn, director of the Santa Monica Airport, said investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board and the county coroner's office were at the airport through the night.

"It was a tragic event that occurred in flight," he said.

Trimborn said he couldn't speculate on the cause of the crash, but said that fatal crashes were unusual at the airport, which has about 130,000 takeoffs and landings a year.

"I've been here since 1996, and the only one time before did we have a fatal accident at the airport," he said. That accident occurred about 10 years ago when a pilot did not take the control lock off the aircraft when he took off and the instruments were locked, Trimborn said. Two people died in that accident, he said.

The airport closed immediately after the 5 p.m. crash and was reopened at 7 a.m. today, Trimborn said.

-- Jia-Rui Chong

Comments () | Archives (9)

Is this the plane?

Sad event.

All tragedy aside, i wonder how he came referred as an "amazing pilot". The first lesson a pilot is taught and should never forget, is that in case of engine failure after take off, you NEVER attempt to turn around and return to the airfield.

If it appears that it was unfortunately Paulo's intentions, then he did not abide by the n°1 aviation rule.

That, is not amazing piloting skills.

RIP Paulo

Mat above who wrote this

"If it appears that it was unfortunately Paulo's intentions, then he did not abide by the n°1 aviation rule.

That, is not amazing piloting skills"

That is just shocking- you have no respect at all. Can you imagine the buildings and houses around Santa Monica which he wouldve had to avoid by attempting a forced landing.

Grow up and show some respect and dignity for the guy- hes just been killed in a plane crash and irrespective of his actions was a truely loyal pilot, businessman, photographer and husband and father.

I read another description of what happened. People thought it was him trying to turn around (they don't know anything about flying though). It seems to me that the "turn around" was the aircraft stalling and rolling over since it lost power so quickly.

Too bad he didn't see the golf course at the end of the runway. The VFR procedure for rwy 21 is to dog leg left after take off and overfly the golf course.

The whole area around this airport is quite dense with houses. The way the trees are arranged on that small golf course also presents a big problem for landing there. I honestly don't see a good place to make an emergency landing anywhere near this runway.

So far, we don't know how far from the runway he was, nor his altitude when the engine failed. It's impossible to say whether he made the right or wrong choices in his maneuvers, but I'm sure all the houses around this airport were of great concern for him as the trouble unfolded. Lest we forget what happened not so long ago near San Diego with an F-18. I think Paulo did his best to avoid additional tragedy on the ground.

I hope Paulo's family and friends, and the unidentified passenger's family and friends can find the strength to make it through such a horrible loss.

I had the privilege of meeting Paulo a couple years ago in a business transaction. He was a class act. Honest, tough negotiator but fun to work with. He gained my respect and I am deeply saddened by his death. My heart goes out to his family and friends. Paulo will be missed.

I knew Paulo VERY WELL. He was top notch, best guy you could possibly know. I heartily agree with those that bash the first guy - MAT - for second guessing Paulo's decision. Have you EVER flown out of Santa Monica? If he "did it by the book" and went for the glide straight forward he most likely would have taken someone ELSE'S life - which isn't fair. He was in an airplane that gave him ZERO options. You fly, you take the risk - and if you HAVE to - then YOU DIE before innocent others. And yes, you can compare the two decisions - fly an FA-18 100 miles PAST San Clemente, just go ahead and avoid North Island as well, fly over a track of housing with a broken jet under a 1000 foot overcast and wind up killing an ENTIRE FAMILY. Absolutely BRILLIANT. Marine Aviation should get a bag of dog droppings for that one. But Paulo didn't do THAT, and yet someone had the gaul to criticize him? MAT? If you happen fly - MAT, just stop OK? You show poor decision making AFTER THE FACT.

So you critics - Do you have "it" to make that snap decision? Your life or others? If you don't, then keep out of the cockpit for the sake of the public at large, because - you DON'T have the right stuff. I knew Paulo well, Paulo had the right stuff, and he proved it with his demise.

What do I do? I chase fires with aircraft, and fly airshows in jets. SO... I know what risk is, and I know what bravery is - trust me - I have buried a lot of people - most who screwed the pooch doin' their "best". Paulo did all he possibly could. He pulled the best possible outcome - given the situation - out of the worse possible circumstances. He got dealt the ultimate "black hand" in aviation, and that is that - no one else hurt. Maybe the first guy to comment -MAT- should pull his nose out of the A.I.M. and start thinking about "the real world" instead of a book that was written before airports were surrounded with communities. GOT IT?! GOOD!

With a heavy heart,

Bob Lamar

MAT - stay out of the cockpit - you have not business thinking about aviation.

I knew Paulo, he was all you could ask for in a guy in every way.

Step off his grave.

Bob Lamar


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