The Federal Aviation Administration is checking into two unrelated accidents at District 1 San Diego City Council candidate Phil Thalheimer’s Montgomery Field flight school.

On Sunday, two men died and another was injured when a plane rented from Flight Training International crashed off the Oceanside coast. According to witnesses, the pilot crashed the plane after attempting an aerial spin maneuver.

Then on Tuesday, a student pilot training with Flight Training International crashed into a parked helicopter while practicing takeoffs and landings at Montgomery Field.

No injuries were reported in the second incident.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said the agency is doing what is essentially a precautionary check of the school’s safety policies. He added that the school has a “very good reputation.”

“There have been two incidents in a short period of time,” Gregor said. “Although there was no apparent link between them, we felt it would be prudent to meet with instructors and go over some safety issues.”

Commenting on Sunday’s fatal crash, Gregor said: “In a situation like that, assuming the crash was caused by pilot error, the company that rented the plane is no more to blame than a rental car company when one of its customers runs a red light.”

Thalheimer, who is running against Sherri Lightner for the District 1 council seat, has not yet returned my calls from this morning.


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