SODERLING, David

From Islapedia

SODERLING, David (-1984) was killed on January 30, 1984 when the LeerJet 24 [N44GA] in which he was co-pilot, overshot the runway at Santa Catalina Island. The jet touched down 500 feet down the runway, overran the runway and went over a 90 feet bluff. It caught fire and all six aboard were killed:




In the News~

February 3, 1984 [NYT]: “The coroner's office has identified five victims of a Lear jet crash on Catalina Island Monday in which six were killed. The coroner said that the five, all Californians, were Steven A. Berardi and his wife, Heather, of Santa Rosa; Joe L. Denison of Walnut Creek; Kenneth Doyle Plante, the pilot, and David Soderling, the co-pilot, both of Santa Rosa. Paul Moritz, manager of the resort island's Airport in the Sky, said the twin-engine craft came down at the end of the 3,200-foot runway in clear weather, then ran off the runway and exploded. It just failed to stop, he said. The plane was registered to G.B. Aero of San Jose, Calif., but was based at the Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa., 55 miles north of San Francisco. The airport on Catalina, a popular resort island 25 miles southwest of Los Angeles Harbor, was closed for the remainder of the day.”


December 5, 1985 [LAT]: “Federal investigators have concluded that a private jet that overshot the runway at Santa Catalina Island’s mountaintop Airport-in-the-Sky nearly two years ago and crashed off a 90-foot bluff, killing all six people aboard, should never have attempted the landing because the runway is too short. The National Transportation Safety Board also found that the six victims might have survived if the private airport had personnel trained to handle such emergencies. The board’s report warned that with the volume of traffic at the airport—it had 56,586 landings and takeoffs in 1983—the potential exists for more such accidents because the terrain drops precipitously at both ends of the 3,240-foot runway. “This airport has a very unforgiving environment in the event of an undershoot or overrun type of accident,” said the board’s report, completed last month. The board urged the Federal Aviation Administration to warn pilots to take special precautions when using the facility, and an FAA official said the agency will probably do so. The safety board said it could not determine exactly what caused the Learjet 24 to plunge from the end of the runway, but it said several factors may have contributed to it, including pilot indecision about whether to abort the landing and the uphill nature of the runway, which prevents pilots from seeing the end of the strip as they land. The board did, however, say the flight crew used “poor judgment in attempting to land because the runway length did not provide any room for error and there was an inadequate margin of safety.” Such a jet needs 3,100 feet to land safely, investigators said. According to the report, the flight originated on the afternoon of Jan. 30, 1984, as a trip between Santa Rosa and Monterey in Northern California. The pilot and co-pilot were demonstrating the plane for two couples who were potential buyers. All six were from Northern California. The destination was changed to Catalina at the request of one of the potential buyers, the report said, and the jet touched down there about 1:30 p.m., 527 feet beyond the start of the runway. The first 2,000 feet of the runway is an uphill grade, and the pilot may have thought the runway was too short and attempted to take off again, the report said, citing changes in engine noise reported by witnesses. When the pilot realized there was more runway available, he apparently tried to stop but lacked enough room. Investigators found skid marks on the last 150 feet of runway.
Fear of Explosion: Four airport employees arrived at the scene with firefighting equipment within three minutes, but they were not trained in crash procedures and did not try to extinguish the blaze for fear that the plane would explode, the report said. Los Angeles County and Avalon firefighters arrived in about 20 minutes from Avalon, which is 6.5 miles from the airport via a steep, winding road. The report said the passengers died from smoke inhalation and burns and could have survived the crash if the blaze had been put out sooner. It recommended that emergency capabilities at the airport be improved, including the stationing of a fully trained crash unit there.”