NTSB: Plane That Crashed Near Palm Springs Was Rented from Flight School

PALM SPRINGS (CNS) - A single-engine airplane that crashed outside Palm Springs, killing both people aboard, was rented from a Corona-based flight school by a recently certified pilot who failed to provide the school with required passenger and emergency contact information, according to a preliminary report released today.

The Cessna 172M crashed in a mountain area about 12 miles north- northwest of Palm Springs International Airport around 6:15 p.m. Feb. 5. The pilot, Korean national Jungho Ju, 32, and his passenger, 28-year-old Los Angeles resident Jaeryung Rachel Park, both died in the crash.

The plane crashed in a remote area, and the pilot's body was not recovered until the following day. Investigators initially believed he was the only person aboard, but Park's body was found one day later.

According to the NTSB's preliminary report, Ju rented the plane from Flying Academy Los Angeles, which is based at Corona Municipal Airport, with plans to fly to North Las Vegas Airport and return either Feb. 6 or Feb. 7.

But rather than flying directly to Las Vegas, Ju flew from Corona to the San Gabriel Valley Airport in El Monte, according to eyewitnesses and air traffic control tower information. At the San Gabriel Valley airport, Ju picked up Park, then departed for Las Vegas around 5:30 p.m., the report states.

According to the NTSB, Flying Academy Los Angeles procedures ``require rental pilots to provide passenger names and emergency contact information prior to each flight, but the pilot did not comply with those procedures.'' Providing such information is not required by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to FAA spokesman Ian Gregor.

Ju had a commercial pilot certificate with single-engine land, multi- engine land and instrument ratings, according to the NTSB report. The certificate was issued Jan. 7 by the FAA South Florida Flight Standards District Office.

Flight school officials told the NTSB that Ju came to the Corona-based academy in January ``to build (flight) time.'' Ju accrued 31 flight hours on the Corona flight school's planes in January and February, according to the report.

Prior to the crash, Ju was in contact with Southern California Terminal Radar Approach Control, or SoCal TRACON, while he was south of Riverside Municipal Airport, but he lost contact due to spotty radar coverage in the area, according to the NTSB. He reestablished contact when he was about 10 miles northwest of Palm Springs International Airport and reported he was following state Route 62. Radar showed he climbed to 4,100 feet and then descended to 1,815 feet, when radar contact was lost, and the plane was not heard from again, prompting an alert about a missing aircraft, according to the report.

The airplane was manufactured in 1973 and had a total service time of around 6,954 hours, according to the NTSB. The engine was overhauled in Belgium in September 2018, and reinstalled into the plane that November, when the plane was most recently inspected.

The NSTB report does not state a cause for the crash, but does note that ``undetermined night meteorological conditions existed at the impact location at the time of the accident.''

``It's still very early in the investigation,'' NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said, adding that the probable cause of the crash will not be determined until a final report is issued.

Photo: Getty Images

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