Flying Pinto Crash - September 11, 1973
The AVE Mizar Flying Pinto crashes, a wing folds up bringing an end to the 5 year project. The day after the crash the local paper reports..
From: The Press Courier Oxnard, CA Wednesday, September 12, 1973
By Rick Nielsen
Two developers of an experimental flying automobile were killed and an El Rio man narrowly escaped serious injury late Tuesday when the craft plowed into a parked pickup truck and burst into flames at the side of a roadway in the north Oxnard area. Sheriff deputies reported. The craft was called the "Flying Pinto."
Officials Inspect Scene of "Flying Pinto" Crash - Depudy Coroner Merle Peters photographs twisted and charred expermental plane in which two nen died Tuesday. County sheriff's deputy checks wreckage.
Dead are the pilot, Harry A. Smolinski, 40 of 7860 Mesa Drive, Santa Susana, and his passenger, Harold Blake, 40, of Van Nuys, president and vice president respectively of Advanced Vehicle Engineers, Van Nuys, developers of the craft on which an estimated $2 million had been spent.
Deputy Coroner Merle Peters said both men died instantly in the fiery crash which occurred just two minutes after they had taken off from the Ventura County Airport at Oxnard for a test flight. He said it had not been determined if they died on injuries or burns. An autopsy is pending.
Seyto Marso Rillo, of 3411 Citrus St., El Rio, owner of the pickup truck, suffered minor burns to his back while running from the crash scene. He said he was about to climb into his truck when he heard the craft, saw it hit the top of a row of eucalyptus trees, then head "straight for me."
"I started to run and got only about 10 feet when it plowed into my truck," he said. He said he was knocked to the ground by the "exploding impact" and was struck by flying and flaming debris. He said he then saw his truck and the plane fully enveloped in fire.
Rillo's truck, with a metal-framed trailer attached, was parked at the side of Gonzales a mile west of Ventura Road and less than a half mile from a cluster of homes.
The craft, a Mizar Flying Car, was a Ford Pinto powered by a 300-horsepower Lycoming aircraft engine and using the wings of a Cessna Skymaster bolted to braces on the frame.The craft was also equipped with a car engine to drive on the highway. It was completely destroyed, as was Rillo's truck. Valued at an estimated $4,000.
Danny Edwards, a control-tower at the airport, said he was viewing the craft through his binoculars when he saw it's right wing fold. The craft was about 1 1/2 miles away. He said it then disappeared and he saw a huge column of smoke "shoot some 200 feet skyward." He then sounded the crash alarm.
City fireman from two engine companies and the snorkel, along with county firemen from one engine company, raced to the location and managed to extinguish the flames within 10 minutes.
Oxnard Fire Capt. Bill Roberts, one of the first to arrive at the scene, said the craft and truck were ablaze. "There was just nothing we could do for the two men," he said.
A witness, Jamie Marquz, of 3314 Gonzales Road, said he was outside his house across the street from the field when he heard what sounded like the engine of the craft sputtering. He said he watched as "one wing folded, then the craft began racing to the ground, parts flying from it. The plane then struck the top of a tree and crashed into the truck and exploded into flames."
Another witness, Domingo DeVera Refuerzo of 2723 Vineyard Ave., Apt. D, Oxnard, said he was standing under a tree when he heard the engine sputter, then looked up to see the craft hit the tree above him and fall to the ground about 100 feet away.
Mac Grisham, airport manager, said the prototype craft had made numerous flights since it arrived at the airport about 3 months ago.
Experimental Flying Automobile Soars Over Oxnard - "Flying Pinto" takes off from County Airport during press preview flight last June
He said Smolinski and Blake had flown into the airport about 4:30 p.m., then took off in the craft without notifying him. He explained that under the agreement, the developers were to notified him on each flight so that he could alert local police and fire officials.
He said he was driving to the tower to get in touch with the two men when he heard the crash horn, then turned to see the column of smoke.
Smolinski is survived by his wife, Elizabeth. Blake leaves his parents Mr. and Mrs. Fred Blake of Des Moines, Iowa. Funeral arrangements for both are pending at Reardon's Mortuary in Oxnard.
From: The Press Courier Oxnard, CA Thursday, September 13, 1973
In Which 2 Died Probed by FAA
Federal Avaiation Administration agens continued their investigation today into the fiery crash of the 'Flying Pinto' which claimed the lives of its two developers Tuesday in Oxnard
A spokesman for the FAA Flight Standard District Office, Van Nuys, said the right wing strut of the half automobile, half airplane collapsed, but the cause is unknown.
He said agents are examining the charred wreckage with "a fine-toothed comb" in hopes of determining what caused the wing to fold while on a test flight over farmland about 1 1/2 miles from the Ventura County Airport at Oxnard.
The pilot, Henry A. Smolinski, 40, of 7880 Mesa Drive, Santa Susana, and his passenger, Harold Blake, 40, of Van Nuys, were killed instantly in the crash.
A coroner's autopsy Wednesday revealed Smolinski and Blake, president and vice president respectively of Advanced Vehicle Engineers, Van Nuys, developers of the Mizar Flying Car, died as a result of several multiple fractures sustained in the crash.
The fate of the craft, a Ford Pinto powered by an airplane engine, was unknown. The developers reportedly had invested an estimated $2 million in its design.
The flying car had taken off from the local airport at 5:02 p.m. and crashed two minutes later into a pickup truck, parked at the edge of Gonzales Road, then burst into flames. The craft, kept at the airport, had made several successful flights during the past three months.
Fureral services for Blake were held today at James A. Reardon Mortuary, Oxnard. The Rev. Otis Fox officiated. Burial will be at Palmyra Cemetery, Palmyra, Iowa.
Blake is survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Blake of Des Moines, Iowa; a brother, Dwight Blake of Van Nuys, and a sister, Mrs. Robert Seals, West Los Angeles.
Born July 28, 1933 in Newton, Iowa. Blake had resided in Los Angeles for 18 years.
Funeral services for Smolinski are pending at Hilburn's Funeral Chaple Newhall. He was born in Cleveland, and had been associated with aerospace for more than 15 years. He leaves his wift Elizabeth.