May 10, 2023, 07:49 Local – San Clemente Island, CA
“On May 10, 2023, at 0749 Pacific daylight time, a Gates Lear Jet 36A, N56PA, was destroyed
when it was involved in an accident near San Clemente Island, California.
Both pilots and the additional crewmember are presumed fatally injured.
The airplane departed Point Magu Naval Air Station (KNTD), Oxnard, California, at 0723 as the
lead airplane in formation with a second Lear Jet airplane utilizing the callsigns FENIX01
(N56PA) and FENIX02 (N544PA). The flight proceeded south towards San Clemente Island
with the FENIX02 flying in close formation with FENIX01. The purpose of the flight was to
participate in training exercises with the United States Navy in Warning Area 291 (W291).
There were three civilian crewmembers onboard each airplane.
Shortly after entering W291, at 15,000 ft mean sea level (MSL), the aircrew of FENIX02
observed the lead airplane’s flaps partially deploy. They notified the lead airplane, who
acknowledged the radio call. The aircrew of FENIX02 then observed the flaps retract. Seconds
later, the aircrew of FENIX01 radioed that they detected an odor in the cabin. The aircrew of
FENIX02 then radioed that observed white or gray colored “smoke or gas” coming from the
“left side AFT Cabin area.” Unidentified fluid was also observed trailing the airplane. At this
point the lead airplane was not maintaining heading or altitude.
FENIX02 then observed flames coming from around the aft equipment door and told the
aircrew of FENIX01 that they were on fire and to declare an emergency. The aircrew of
FENIX01 declared an emergency and their intentions to land at San Clemente Island Naval
Auxiliary Landing Field (NUC). FENIX02 then took over as lead for the formation flight and
maneuvered in front of FENIX01 to lead them to the airfield. FENIX02 last observed and heard
radio transmissions from FENIX01 as they descended through about 9,000 feet.
The data showed that FENIX01 proceeded on about a 165° heading until about 30 miles south of
NUC, where the airplane began a left turn. FENIX01 subsequently made a series of descending
turns before the data ended. The last recorded data point showed the airplane at 1,338 ft and
heading northwest about ½ mile off the southwest side of San Clemente Island.”
Source NTSB Aviation Investigation Preliminary Report
Accident Number: WPR23FA185
Informations are preliminary and subject to change.