A Cessna 150 crashed north of Paine Field on Friday evening, Feb. 16, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. The pilot survived without serious injury. (Courtesy of Richard Newman.)

A Cessna 150 crashed north of Paine Field on Friday evening, Feb. 16, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. The pilot survived without serious injury. (Courtesy of Richard Newman.)

‘I’m stuck in the trees’: 911 call recounts plane crash near Paine Field

Asad Ali was coming in for a landing in a Cessna 150 when he crashed into woods south of Mukilteo. Then he called 911 — for 48 minutes.

EVERETT — The dispatcher asked for his address. But Asad Ali didn’t know.

“My plane is crashed right before the runway, and I’m stuck in the trees,” Ali told a 911 dispatcher on the evening of Feb. 16.

Ali, a member of the local Puget Sound Flyers club, had just flown a 135-mile round trip from Everett’s Paine Field to Port Angeles in a Cessna 150, then looped back around Puget Sound.

But as he descended, he crashed into the woods of Japanese Gulch, south of downtown Mukilteo. The flying club attributed the crash to a mechanical issue that caused the engine to lose power.

The recording of his 911 call was released Thursday to The Daily Herald via public records request. The call gives the latest insight into the crash near Paine Field that, somehow, left Ali uninjured in the small plane, leading to a major search and rescue operation in the dark.

The 48-minute audio of the 911 call gives the pilot’s perspective on the nearly hour-long search.

Everett Herald · 911 call from pilot who crashed his Cessna plane last Friday

Ali’s first call was an alert sent to 911 from his iPhone, which had about 80% of its battery life. A dispatcher called him back.

“Do you know where you are at the moment?” the dispatcher asked Ali after the crash.

“All I can see are just trees all all around me,” Ali said. “The houses should be on my right-hand side and I am basically right before the big runway.”

Ali had apparently landed about a half-mile north of the runway in Mukilteo, the dispatcher told him.

“If that’s what the mapping is showing then, yeah, that’s likely to be correct,” Ali told the dispatcher.

Meanwhile, the airport confirmed the crash was “an uncontrolled impact with terrain in a wooded area.” Ali had no passengers in the plane.

“Are you injured?” the dispatcher asked.

Ali wasn’t, he responded.

“But I’m not able to get out of the aircraft, because it’s wedged in between the trees,” he added. “I don’t know how high it really is.”

“I’ll just stay on here until we officially get somebody out there to you,” the dispatcher responded. “It looks like we just have them working their way through to try to get to you, OK?”

As the sun set in Everett around 5:30 p.m., police and firefighters used drones with infrared cameras to locate the plane in a brushy ravine, Mukilteo Fire Chief Gene Albright said last week.

Meanwhile, the dispatcher heard movement over the phone. At first, Ali said he was trying to look for his glasses.

“Are you doing OK?” she asked Ali.

“OK, now the plane is moving a little bit,” Ali responded.

“Just try to stay as still as possible as you can in there for now,” the dispatcher said. “It’s a pretty densely wooded area there so they’re trying to find you without disturbing the area too much.”

The small fixed-wing single-engine plane belonged to Puget Sound Flyers. Federal Aviation Administration data shows it was based in Everett, with an airworthiness certificate first issued in 1975. The certificate was renewed in 2021, with an expiration date in 2028. The plane used a Continental 0-200 Series engine.

Ten minutes into the call, the dispatcher told Ali an officer was going to turn on his sirens to see if the pilot could hear him.

“Are you hearing anything at the moment?” she asked.

“No, no,” Ali said after a long pause.

The sirens were too far south for Ali to hear, the dispatcher told him.

About 10 minutes later, Ali said he could hear the sirens — but the sound disappeared moments later, and he heard something else.

“I just hear noise,” the pilot said. “Like somebody’s yelling.”

“Hello, hello!” he called out the window. He waved a flashlight.

After about three minutes of yelling, responders closed in on him.

“Right here!” Ali called out 38 minutes minutes into the 911 call. “Hello! You’re close!”

“Yep, not going anywhere!” Ali yelled again.

Forty-six minutes into the call, search parties found the Cessna. The call ended as responders mapped out a plan to get Ali out of the aircraft.

The pilot survived “without a scratch,” Puget Sound Flyers club president Richard Newman said Saturday. He declined medical aid once he was on the ground, the airport wrote in a Facebook post.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were advised of the crash, according to Paine Field.

The Cessna plane remained at the crash site as of Thursday.

Newman said he needed to get a release from the NTSB, FAA and other authorities before recovering the plane.

“‘You broke my airplane man, c’mon,’” Newman said with a chuckle Thursday. “I’ve known (Ali) for a couple years now. He’s a good guy.”

An initial report could take 15 to 30 days to complete after the incident, NTSB spokesperson Jennifer Gabrif said Thursday.

Newman said recovery will be challenging, because the aircraft was caught “deep in the thickets.”

Herald writer Jenelle Baumbach contributed to this report.

Maya Tizon: 425-339-3434; maya.tizon@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @mayatizon.

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