Divers recovering debris from the crash site. Courtesy Los Angeles Sheriff's Department
Divers recovering debris from the crash site. Courtesy Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department

Searchers Wednesday recovered a woman pilot’s body along with the wreckage of the second of two small planes that collided over the ocean off San Pedro on Friday afternoon.

Her last words to her husband as she left home: “It’s a beautiful day. I have to go flying.”

The second plane, the woman’s Citabria, was found last night, about a mile away from where the other aircraft was located about 2 p.m. Sunday, according to the sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau.

About 10 Wednesday morning, a dive team from the Special Enforcement Bureau recovered the aircraft and the pilot’s body, the sheriff’s department reported.

The crash occurred about 3:15 p.m. Friday, and a small debris field was found soon afterward. A Beech 35 Bonanza with the bodies of a pilot and his passenger inside was found about two miles outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach .

Both aircraft were operated out of the Torrance Municipal Airport. The crew of a fishing boat was the first to report a plane hitting the water on Friday afternoon.

Authorities have not yet released the names of the occupants of either plane, but the pilot of the Citabria was identified by her husband as Mary Falstrom, 72, of Torrance.

Rich Falstrom said his wife had 25 years of experience as a pilot and was a flight attendant when she was younger.

“I’m sure she was just doing her normal routine and apparently didn’t see the other plane, and they didn’t see her,” he told NBC4 last week.

Mary Falstrom, who volunteered at the Western Museum of Flight in Torrance Municipal Airport, told her husband Friday that it was a perfect day to fly.

“She ran in and said, ‘It’s a beautiful day, I have to go flying,”‘ he told the Daily Breeze , recalling the last conversation he would have with his wife of 24 years. “I said, “Have fun.”‘

The two men in the second plane, aged 61 and 81, were also from the South Bay area, a Coast Guard official said.

Their names were withheld pending family notification, according to the coroner’s office, but one of the men was identified by friends as Martin Clement, a Catholic church deacon who worked as a financial planner.

The recovery efforts were led by the Sheriff’s Emergency Services Detail, which is part of the Special Enforcement Bureau.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash.

—City News Service


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