Community Leaders Among Five Dead in Small Plane Crash at Long Beach Airport

Mark Bixby
A twin-engine plane carrying community leaders from the Long Beach area crashed and erupted into flames on March 16, 2011 shortly after taking off from Long Beach Airport in California. Five of the six people on board were killed, including the pilot. The only survivor of the fatal crash was rushed to an area hospital in critical condition.

The Beechcraft King Air plane, owned by a Los Angeles based company, took off at 10:30 a.m. heading to Salt Lake City, Utah. Witnesses saw the plane circle twice before banking hard attempting to return to the runway, where it crashed immediately upon touching down. Firefighters and first responders found the plane engulfed by flames as they searched for survivors. Two of the airport’s five runways had to be shut down for the remainder of the day.

Among the dead was Mark Bixby, whose lineage in the Long Beach community extends back to the 19th century when a member of his family purchased Rancho Los Cerritos and developed the land into what is now part of the city of Long Beach. Tom Dean and Jeff Berger, both prominent southern California land developers, were also killed in the crash.

Authorities from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) arrived Wednesday to investigate, though the cause of the crash is not known at this time.