Federal investigators release initial findings into fatal Petaluma plane crash

The National Transportation Safety Board has released its initial report on the fatal private plane crash April 6 about 2 miles northeast of Petaluma Municipal Airport, confirming the 75-year-old pilot went down shortly after takeoff.

Carl Morrison, of San Diego County, was headed home in his fixed-wing aircraft when he took off from Petaluma just after 5 p.m., the report says. The 1990 Mooney M20J propeller-driven plane crashed about 15 minutes later upon impact in a field, and it burst into flames. An Oakland command center received the plane’s emergency location signal a few minutes later.

A cause won’t be identified until a final investigation report is issued within the next two years, according to an NTSB spokesman. The preliminary findings note that a pilot who witnessed Morrison’s takeoff did not notice any obvious mechanical issues before the plane initiated a shallow left turn and disappeared into the early evening fog.

All of the plane’s major components were found and will be used to determine the cause of the crash.

- Kevin Fixler

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