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Santa Monica Small Plane Crash: Student Pilot Smashes Into Actress Rachel Blanchard's House

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Federal investigators have begun a probe into Monday's small plane crash that found a single-engine Cessna smashing into a home in Santa Monica.

Santa Monica Airport Director Robert Trimborn told the Santa Monica Mirror that the pilot was headed back to the Santa Monica Airport after taking off on a solo flight to Santa Barbara.

The pilot, whose name has not been released, was a student, confirms Santa Monica Patch, though some reports indicate he was "practicing takeoffs and landings," Trimborn said the pilot was experiencing "some kind of equipment failure." The crash happened about a third of a mile from the Santa Monica Airport runway.

The plane went down at 2:29 p.m. Monday into the home at 21st and Navy, and a small fire broke out. Painters were working at the home, which belongs to actress Rachel Blanchard, and one of the workers sustained injuries to his hair and hand. Blanchard, who starred in the aviation-themed scare flick "Snakes on a Plane," was not home at the time. The pilot suffered a compound leg fracture.

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As part of the investigation, members of the National Transportation Safety Board will be reviewing the flight recorder tapes, and interviewing people at the flight school as well as the workers who were at the home when the crash occurred.

Yesterday's crash fueled concerns long-raised by area residents about how unsafe it is to keep the Santa Monica Airport in operation with homes in such close proximity to the runway.