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Alberto Behar, 47, killed after small plane crashes into the intersection of Vanowen Street and Hayvenhurst Avenue near the airport in Van Nuys, CA

Modified Date: 
Sun, 01/11/2015 - 7:45am
Accident Date: 
Friday, January 9, 2015

Pilot Dies in Small Plane Crash Near Van Nuys Airport

The plane is a single-engine Lancair that crashed under unknown circumstances, according to FAA spokesman Ian Gregor.

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It appeared most of the debris ended up on the street outside a used car sale lot, said Rick Grant, who arrived on scene after the crash.

One Dead in Small Plane Crash in California

According to KABC-TV, the plane crash in an intersection around 3:20 p.m. ET not far from the Van Nuys Airport.

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Pat Gallegos, a witness to the crash described the scene as "chaotic," saying the plane barely missed a vehicle with a woman inside.

Pilot killed in small plane crash was NASA scientist

Behar worked for 23 years at JPL in Pasadena and also held a research professor post at Arizona State University. He worked on two Mars missions and spent years researching how robots work in harsh environments like volcanoes and underwater. 

Plane Crash Victim Was JPL Scientist

 “From his submarines that peeked under Antarctica to his boats that raced Greenland's rivers, Alberto's work enabled measurements of things we'd never known," NASA scientist Thomas Wagner said in a statement. 
It was about 1:15pm when witnesses say they saw plane gliding very low to the ground, but did not hear the sound of the engine, before the plane eventually dove into the ground with a loud crash. While the pilot, a man in his early 40's, was killed, no one else was on the plane and no one on the ground was injured. Astonishingly, the plane crashed into an intersection without hitting any vehicles, people, or buildings. Investigation continues to determine the cause of this crash, though since witnesses claim they did not hear the engine, it was likely some type of mechanical failure. Check back for updates.
People Involved: 
Alberto Behar

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