Animated Loading
Having trouble loading this page?
Get help troubleshooting.

Police: Pilot in fatal California crash had fake records

Published
Firefighters work the scene of a deadly plane crash in the residential neighborhood of Yorba Linda, Calif., Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. The Federal Aviation Administration said a twin-engine Cessna 414A crashed in Yorba Linda shortly after taking off from the Fullerton Municipal Airport. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The man piloting a small plane that broke apart over a Southern California neighborhood had false credentials identifying him as a retired Chicago police officer, authorities said Tuesday.

Antonio Pastini was killed when the twin-engine plane broke up shortly after takeoff and fell in pieces in Yorba Linda, igniting a fire in a home where four people died on Sunday. The cause of the crash has not been determined.

Pastini, 75, was initially identified as a retired officer but Chicago police said there were no records of him working for the department.

The credentials found at the crash site included false retirement papers and a police badge bearing the same number as a badge reported lost in 1978, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in an email to The Associated Press.

Orange County sheriff's spokeswoman Carrie Braun said the credentials were not legitimate but the pilot was indeed Pastini. The victims inside the home have yet to be publicly identified.

Pastini's daughter, Julia Ackley, said her father's birth name was Jordan Isaacson, but she didn't say why he changed it. She wouldn't address the police credentials.

"I'd prefer not to comment, and let the investigators do their job," Ackley told KABC-TV. "My father is exactly who he said he was."

She said he was a restaurant owner and an experienced pilot who flew regularly from his home in Nevada to visit family in California.

Aviation safety experts cautioned against drawing early conclusions about the cause of the crash.

"At this stage you don't make assumptions. You let the evidence lead you where it leads you," said John Cox, a former commercial pilot and a veteran crash investigator who is head of the consulting firm Safety Operating Systems.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators have been collecting parts of the aircraft, the plane's records and information about Pastini, who was described as a commercial pilot with an instrument flight rating.

Preliminary information showed the plane took off around 1:35 p.m. Sunday from Fullerton Municipal Airport, made a left turn and climbed to an altitude of 7,800 feet (2,377 meters) before starting to descend over Yorba Linda.

Weather was intermittently rainy across Southern California during the weekend, but specific conditions encountered by the flight were not immediately known.

Observers said the plane initially appeared intact when it fell through a cloud ceiling at an altitude of about 2,000 to 3,000 feet (600 to 900 meters), investigator Maja Smith said.

"Witnesses say that they saw the airplane coming out of a cloud at a very high speed before parts of the airplane such as tail and subsequently wings starting to break off," she said.

The Cessna 414A has a good reputation, said Cox, who said he has flown similar Cessnas since the 1970s. In-flight breakups are uncommon, and causes can range from metal fatigue to instrument failure and forces induced by the pilot, he said.

He said the breakup may have begun earlier than was apparent to the witnesses.

"Small pieces may have come off that are leading up to the cataclysmic breakup that people see. You need to make sure that the airplane was fully intact when they first see it," he said. "As an investigator you have to be careful about that."

Losing control of an airplane can also lead to a breakup, Cox said.

One of the first things that might fail in that situation, he said, is a horizontal stabilizer — the structures that look like small wings on the tail.

"Once one of them comes off the loads then on the airplane will exceed what it can then withstand and other pieces will fail due to structural overload," Cox said.

Photos of the wreck showing the outer portions of the wings apparently snapped off are consistent with the type of forces wings are subjected to with the loss of one or more horizontal stabilizers and when the airplane loses aerodynamic balance, he said.

Video showing puffs of smoke erupting in the sky as the plane fell were consistent with an in-flight breakup rather than an in-flight fire aboard the plane, Cox said

Witnesses described the plane as sounding like a missile or a racing motorcycle. Cox said that could be the result of the engines no longer being under control.

___

Associated Press journalists Christopher Weber, Amanda Lee Myers and Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.

A National Transportation Safety Board worker takes a photo of an engine that came to rest against a house on Crestknoll Dr. in Yorba Linda, Calif on Monday, February 4, 2019. The debris field from a small plane crash a day earlier covered several blocks with one home catching fire. The pilot and four people on the ground died. (Paul Bersebach/The Orange County Register via AP)
A resident looks at debris that hit a house after a small plane crashed into a neighborhood of Yorba Linda, Calif., Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. A few people died and a few others were injured after the plane apparently came apart, dropping parts that scattered across a suburban neighborhood and ignited a house fire before landing in a backyard, witnesses and authorities said Sunday. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
Investigator examine a burned out house on Crestknoll Dr. in Yorba Linda, Calif on Monday, February 4, 2019 after a small plane came apart in mid-air and crashed a day earlier. The debris field from the crash covered several blocks with one home catching fire. The pilot and four people on the ground died. (Paul Bersebach/The Orange County Register via AP)
Damage and debris from a small plane crash is shown in front of a home in Yorba Linda, Calif., Monday, Feb. 4, 2019. Five people died and two were injured after a small plane apparently came apart Sunday over a suburban Southern California neighborhood, raining debris on streets and backyards and igniting a house fire, authorities said. (AP Photo/Amy Taxin)
Dave Elfver, 75, talks Monday, Feb. 4, 2019 about the plane crash in his Yorba Linda, Calif., neighborhood Sunday, Feb. 3. He said he was getting ready to go to his friend's house to watch the Super Bowl when he heard a whining sound
Residents look at the debris that hit their home after a small plane crashed into the residential neighborhood of Yorba Linda, Calif., Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. A few people died and a few others were injured after the plane apparently came apart, dropping parts that scattered across a suburban neighborhood and ignited a house fire before landing in a backyard, witnesses and authorities said Sunday. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
Firefighters work the scene of a deadly plane crash in the residential neighborhood of Yorba Linda, Calif., Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. The Federal Aviation Administration said a twin-engine Cessna 414A crashed in Yorba Linda shortly after taking off from the Fullerton Municipal Airport. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
A National Transportation Safety Board worker takes a photo of an engine that came to rest against a house on Crestknoll Dr. in Yorba Linda, Calif on Monday, February 4, 2019. The debris field from a small plane crash a day earlier covered several blocks with one home catching fire. The pilot and four people on the ground died. (Paul Bersebach/The Orange County Register via AP)
A National Transportation Safety Board worker takes a photo of an engine that came to rest against a house on Crestknoll Dr. in Yorba Linda, Calif on Monday, February 4, 2019. The debris field from a small plane crash a day earlier covered several blocks with one home catching fire. The pilot and four people on the ground died. (Paul Bersebach/The Orange County Register via AP)
Dave Elfver, 75, talks Monday, Feb. 4, 2019 about the plane crash in his Yorba Linda, Calif., neighborhood Sunday, Feb. 3. He said he was getting ready to go to his friend's house to watch the Super Bowl when he heard a whining sound
Dave Elfver, 75, talks Monday, Feb. 4, 2019 about the plane crash in his Yorba Linda, Calif., neighborhood Sunday, Feb. 3. He said he was getting ready to go to his friend's house to watch the Super Bowl when he heard a whining sound "like a motorcycle going a hundred miles per hour." Then, he said, came the explosion. "The whole house shook. I thought it was an earthquake, but the whining sound didn't make any sense." The pilot, the lone occupant of the plane, and four people in the home that burned, not shown, died. (AP Photo/Amy Taxin)
Investigator examine a burned out house on Crestknoll Dr. in Yorba Linda, Calif on Monday, February 4, 2019 after a small plane came apart in mid-air and crashed a day earlier. The debris field from the crash covered several blocks with one home catching fire. The pilot and four people on the ground died. (Paul Bersebach/The Orange County Register via AP)
Investigator examine a burned out house on Crestknoll Dr. in Yorba Linda, Calif on Monday, February 4, 2019 after a small plane came apart in mid-air and crashed a day earlier. The debris field from the crash covered several blocks with one home catching fire. The pilot and four people on the ground died. (Paul Bersebach/The Orange County Register via AP)
Firefighters work the scene of a deadly plane crash in the residential neighborhood of Yorba Linda, Calif., Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. The Federal Aviation Administration said a twin-engine Cessna 414A crashed in Yorba Linda shortly after taking off from the Fullerton Municipal Airport. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
Firefighters work the scene of a deadly plane crash in the residential neighborhood of Yorba Linda, Calif., Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. The Federal Aviation Administration said a twin-engine Cessna 414A crashed in Yorba Linda shortly after taking off from the Fullerton Municipal Airport. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
Residents look at the debris that hit their home after a small plane crashed into the residential neighborhood of Yorba Linda, Calif., Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. A few people died and a few others were injured after the plane apparently came apart, dropping parts that scattered across a suburban neighborhood and ignited a house fire before landing in a backyard, witnesses and authorities said Sunday. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
Residents look at the debris that hit their home after a small plane crashed into the residential neighborhood of Yorba Linda, Calif., Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. A few people died and a few others were injured after the plane apparently came apart, dropping parts that scattered across a suburban neighborhood and ignited a house fire before landing in a backyard, witnesses and authorities said Sunday. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
Damage and debris from a small plane crash is shown in front of a home in Yorba Linda, Calif., Monday, Feb. 4, 2019. Five people died and two were injured after a small plane apparently came apart Sunday over a suburban Southern California neighborhood, raining debris on streets and backyards and igniting a house fire, authorities said. (AP Photo/Amy Taxin)
Damage and debris from a small plane crash is shown in front of a home in Yorba Linda, Calif., Monday, Feb. 4, 2019. Five people died and two were injured after a small plane apparently came apart Sunday over a suburban Southern California neighborhood, raining debris on streets and backyards and igniting a house fire, authorities said. (AP Photo/Amy Taxin)
A resident looks at debris that hit a house after a small plane crashed into a neighborhood of Yorba Linda, Calif., Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. A few people died and a few others were injured after the plane apparently came apart, dropping parts that scattered across a suburban neighborhood and ignited a house fire before landing in a backyard, witnesses and authorities said Sunday. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
A resident looks at debris that hit a house after a small plane crashed into a neighborhood of Yorba Linda, Calif., Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. A few people died and a few others were injured after the plane apparently came apart, dropping parts that scattered across a suburban neighborhood and ignited a house fire before landing in a backyard, witnesses and authorities said Sunday. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
Firefighters work the scene of a deadly plane crash in the residential neighborhood of Yorba Linda, Calif., Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. The Federal Aviation Administration said a twin-engine Cessna 414A crashed in Yorba Linda shortly after taking off from the Fullerton Municipal Airport. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
Firefighters work the scene of a deadly plane crash in the residential neighborhood of Yorba Linda, Calif., Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. The Federal Aviation Administration said a twin-engine Cessna 414A crashed in Yorba Linda shortly after taking off from the Fullerton Municipal Airport. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)