Oceanside plane crash under investigation

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A retired man lost his life Tuesday morning after his aircraft experienced possible engine problems when it left the Oceanside Municipal Airport. Cecil Edward Judd, 83, was the sole occupant of the plane and died on the scene as the aircraft burst into flames.

The airplane was a 42-year-old Beech craft 95-B55 that was owned by the San Clemente resident and his wife Lorraine. The crash took place at 11 a.m. just after it had taken off. Judd managed to steer the troubled aircraft to a vacant spot at El Camino Real near state Route 76, which caused the eastbound lanes to shut down for three hours.

Michael Drake, a spokesman for the county Public Works Department said country workers witnessed the plane crashing. “They saw the plane taking off and it sounded like it had an engine problem…He barely cleared the trees,” Drake said.

Firefighters arrived on the scene to find the destroyed airplane on fire along with the surrounding brush. The team was able to have the flames under control within 20 minutes.

Oceanside Fire Capt. David Snyder said the plane landed very close to the fire station. Firefighters watched the aircraft pass within 50 feet over the station and under power lines headed east from Oceanside Municipal Airport.

“There was so much devastation to the cockpit. It was unsurvivable,” Snyder said.

Judd was a member of the Retired United Pilots Association and served with the Civil Air Patrol at his home in Huntsville, Ala. He served in World War II, but was not a pilot. When he finished his term he began to train as a pilot and fell in love with it, logging more than 30,000 fly hours.

Oceanside Municipal Airport reported that Judd would routinely fly from Oceanside to Corona Municipal Airport and believe he was on his way to Corona at the time of the crash.

Stuart Randolph, Judd’s son-in-law, said the airline practically had to force Judd to retire from piloting when he was in his 60s.

“You can’t get them out of the cockpit,” Randolph said, in reference to his father-in-law and other pilots that love to fly. “He did like to get out in that twin-engine Beech.”

The Federal Aviation Administration was on the scene Tuesday as well as investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board. The investigators are determining the reason of the plane crash.

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