Beechcraft King Air (Stock photo: Wikimedia Commons)
A door fell off a small private plane leaving the Monterey Regional Airport on Thursday afternoon, landing in a spot unknown until Friday morning when it was found on a motel roof.
"The strange part is, nobody noticed it," said A.J. Panchel, the front desk manager at the El Castell Motel on North Fremont Street. The room was unoccupied at the time, and neither the guests nor the motel staff heard the door crash into the tile roof. A contractor working outside noticed the door around 8 a.m. and alerted Panchel, who contacted the Monterey Police Department.
The police notified the Fire Department, which saw to the removal of the 75-pound door in a matter of minutes. Though the roof tiles sustained damage, the interior of the motel was not affected.
The door came from a Beechcraft King Air, a common twin-turboprop plane, said Thomas Greer, general manager of the Monterey airport. The pilot took off at 3 p.m. Thursday and flew west over the Monterey Pines golf course and the Monterey County Fairgrounds, Greer said. The pilot heard a pop, and believing that the door had opened, he immediately turned around to land, the airport manager said. It wasn't until he was back on the ground that he realized the door was missing. The pilot and his passenger were not injured, Greer said.
Greer contacted the fairgrounds as well as the Coast Guard, hoping to locate the door. He waited all afternoon and all night before learning of the door's fate in the morning, he said.
Greer has no idea why the door fell, but he notified the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB will examine the door and the plane to find an explanation for the mishap, he said.
Fortunately, these events are unusual. In his entire aviation career, Greer said he has only dealt with two other objects falling off a plane. "You don't hear about it often," he said. However, "anything that can come loose, somewhere, sometime will come loose," he said.