Chilling audio of the exchange between the pilot of the plane that crashed in California on Monday and air traffic control reveals moments of intense alarm and apparent disorientation.
“It looks like you are drifting off course. Are you correcting?” an air traffic controller is heard asking Dr. Sugata Das, an Arizona cardiologist and pilot of the deadly flight.
The air traffic controller then became more specific in his commands to Das.
“Low altitude alert. Climb immediately. Climb the airplane. Maintain 5,000. Expedite the climb. Climb the airplane please.”
The controller continued urging the pilot to ascend to 5,000 feet as the plane remained at about 1,500 feet above ground.
“You appear to be descending again, sir,” the air traffic controller then said.
The audio was obtained by KUSI News in California, and appears to match audio circulating on YouTube. The FAA could not comment on the validity of the audio on YouTube when contacted by Fox News, and noted the NTSB will release it at a later date.
The twin-engine Cessna was headed to San Diego from Yuma, Arizona, but ultimately crashed into a Santee neighborhood, killing Das and a UPS truck driver that was hit by the plane.
A certified flight instructor believes that Das was disoriented before the crash, saying track logs show the plane erratically descended and ascended before crashing.
“I believe the pilot was totally disoriented,” Robert Katz, a certified flight instructor, told CBS 8.
“He does not know which way is up and he is just along for the ride. And so is anyone else on board that plane, unfortunately,” Katz added.
Residents of the San Diego neighborhood said the crash left the area looking like “a war zone.”
“I can’t even believe it,” Jim Slaff, the son of homeowners whose property was destroyed, told Fox 5, comparing it to “a war zone.” “I don’t know how you would rebuild after this. I’m just sitting here thinking what we we need to do going forward.”
Another home that had just been renovated by newlyweds was also destroyed by the crash.
“They just finished remodel yesterday,” Breana King, the sister of one of the newlyweds, said. “It could have been different, we’re just really lucky.”
The FAA and NTSB are both investigating the crash.