Petaluma, CA Civil Air Patrol Colonel Dies in Crash of His Mooney M20, Apr 2018

Colonel Carleton Morrison, Vice Commander, Pacific Region, Civil Air Patrol The remains of a Mooney M20J rest in a field on Manor Lane near the Petaluma Municipal Airport on Saturday morning. The 75-year-old pilot was found dead at the scene about 10 p.m. Friday. Colonel Carleton Morrison, Vice Commander, Pacific Region, Civil Air Patrol

A small plane crashed Friday evening, April 6, in Petaluma, killing the pilot, officials said.

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office said only that he was believed to be a 75-year-old man from San Diego County. In a statement posted on Facebook, Colonel Jon Stokes, Pacific Region Commander of the Civil Air Patrol, wrote that the man was Colonel Carleton Morrison, Region Vice Commander of the Civil Air Patrol.

Stokes said that Morrison was previously a lieutenant colonel in the United States Marine Corps who served in Vietnam and retired after 20 years in the military.

"Col Morrison was the type of airman that we should all aspire to be; dedicated, compassionate and always forward looking," Stokes said. "He will be missed every day."

The search for his plane -- which Stokes said was Morrison's personal aircraft-- began at 6:40 p.m. Friday when the Air Force called the sheriff's office about an emergency transponder activation from a small plane in Petaluma.

"Deputies responded to the coordinates given on Sonoma Mountain and were unable to immediately locate the plane," Crum said.

Around the same time, a woman from San Diego County called Petaluma police to say that her husband was overdue home. He was believed to have left the Petaluma Airport for San Diego County, flying alone on a Mooney M20 fix-winged airplane, Crum said.

Around 10 p.m., sheriff's deputies saw a small fire in a remote ravine near the 3600 block of Manor Lane. They hiked to the location and found the downed aircraft, Crum said. Morrison was pronounced dead on scene.

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash.


75-year-old pilot who was heading home to San Diego County was killed when his small plane crashed into a ravine in Northern California Friday evening, authorities said.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office has not confirmed the identify of the pilot, but the family of Carl Morrison of Fallbrook posted a message on Facebook Saturday morning saying the plane Morrison was flying crashed near Petaluma.

“We are so saddened by the passing of our husband, father, and friend,” the post said. Morrison was the vice commander at Pacific Region, Civil Air Patrol and principal at Morrison Law, a firm based in Fallbrook.

The post said Morrison was on his way home after a business trip.

The first hint of trouble came about 6:40 p.m. when the U.S. Air Force received an emergency transponder activation from an aircraft. The military notified the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office and deputies searched the coordinates on Sonoma Mountain in eastern Petaluma but didn’t find any sign of a crash, said sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Crum.

Around the same time, a woman called Petaluma police and reported her husband was overdue home. She said he was supposed to have taken off from the Petaluma Municipal Airport in his Mooney M20 and flown home, Crum said.

About 10 p.m., deputies spotted a small fire in a remote ravine. Deputies hiked to the area and found the downed plane and the body of the pilot.

“Carl was a good man,” said Tom Wilson, a Fallbrook writer and photographer who was a friend of Morrison’s for more than 20 years at the Fallbrook Community Airpark. “He was intelligent, family-oriented, principled … you could take him at his word, very professional.”

Morrison served for 20 years as a member of the Marine Corps, reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel and serving time in Vietnam.

Morrison ran his law firm out of the Fallbrook airpark and frequently flew to the Bay Area to conduct business, Wilson said. “It’s absolutely a shock,” Wilson said. “He kept his airplane in very good condition and he used it a lot.”

According to his law firm’s website, Morrison earned four university degrees, including a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University in 1966 and a law degree from DePaul University in Chicago in 1976.

A devout Mormon, Morrison had an extensive family that included eight children and 22 grandchildren, according to a story about the accident in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

Wilson said he last saw Morrison a week ago at the airpark when the attorney drove by.

“When he got out of the car for our initial greeting I figured we’d shake hands but he gave me a hug,” Wilson said. “And that was the last time I saw him … It’s a very nice way to remember him.”

The California wing of the Civil Air Patrol posted the news on its Facebook page.

“Col Morrison was the type of Airman that we should all aspire to be; dedicated, compassionate and always forward looking,” said the post signed by Pacific Region commander, Col. Jon Stokes. “He will be missed every day.”

- The San Diego Union-Tribune


Another crash involving another Colonel and Pacific Region Civil Air Patrol Vice Commander:


NTSB Accident Report:

On April 6, 2018, about 1715 Pacific daylight time (PDT), a Mooney M20J airplane, N9133Z, was destroyed by impact and postcrash fire when it collided with terrain shortly after departure from the Petaluma Municipal Airport (O69), Petaluma, California. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight when the accident occurred. The private pilot sustained fatal injuries, instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed, and an IFR plan had been filed.The flight departed from O69 destined for Fallbrook Community Airpark (L18), Fallbrook, California. When the flight failed to arrive on time, a concerned family member contacted Oakland Center (ZOA) and initiated a search for the missing airplane.ZOA received an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal report at 1723 in the vicinity of O69. An alert notice (ALNOT) was issued by the Federal Aviation Administration at 1803, and an extensive search was launched. Aerial search operations were hindered by degraded weather conditions; however, a ground search was conducted by personnel from the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department, Petaluma Police Department, Petaluma Fire Department, Rancho Adobe Fire Department, as well as the Petaluma Airport Manager. About 2200 searchers located the accident airplane's wreckage about 2 miles northeast of O69.At about 1700:30 the pilot received his IFR clearance from O69 to L18 with a void time of 1710.A pilot rated witness familiar with operations at O69 was on the deck of the airport office monitoring common traffic advisory frequency when he heard the accident pilot radio "Petaluma ground, Mooney taxi to Runway 29" he then observed the airplane taxi to runway 11. He stated that the airplane remained in the runway 11 runup area for about 15 minutes. At about 1700 the pilot announced, "Petaluma traffic, Mooney departing Runway 29." At which time the witness transmitted "Runway 11" to which the pilot replied, "thank you, I appreciate the help." He observed the airplane depart off runway 11, climb to about 300 feet above ground level (AGL) before initiating a shallow left turn and disappearing into the fog. The witness reported that there were no unusual sounds from the airplane during the takeoff, and the engine sounded "strong, smooth and normal."The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) along with the rest of the investigative team reached the accident site on the morning of April 8. The airplane impacted in a near vertical attitude in in a soft, muddy mustard field with rolling hills at an elevation of about 307 ft mean sea level, on a heading of about 200°. All the airplane's major components were located at the main wreckage site. The right wing was displaced from the fuselage and came to rest on the right side and forward of the fuselage. The left wing sustained extensive accordion style leading edge crushing near the tip lessening in severity toward the wing root. The engine and propeller separated from the airframe and were buried in about 3 feet of soft mud. The propeller remained attached to the crankshaft and the blades remained attached to the propeller hub assembly. Both blades exhibited leading edge polishing. The fuselage was largely consumed by postcrash fire. All the primary flight control surfaces remained attached to their respective attach points; however, flight control continuity could not be verified on-scene due to impact damage and postcrash fire. The airplane was equipped with an Electronics International CGR-30P electronic engine monitor. The impact damaged device was recovered from the accident scene and retained for further examination. The closest weather reporting facility was Petaluma Municipal Airport (O69), Petaluma, California. At 1655, an METAR from O69 was reporting, in part: wind calm, visibility, ¾ statute, mist; clouds and sky condition, overcast 600 feet; temperature, 59 °F; dew point 59° F; altimeter, 29.87 inches of mercury.