KFI's Main Tower is Destroyed
by a Private Aircraft
December 19, 2004

Photos and Descriptions by Marvin Collins
Some additional text by Bob Gonsett
(Posted and Edited by Steve Blodgett)

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A small plane crashed Sunday morning December 19, 2004 into radio station KFI's tower, killing a husband and wife aboard the plane and temporarily knocking KFI off the air.  The single-engine Cessna 182 struck the tower at about 9:45 AM, hitting about ten feet from the top of the tower, causing it to collapse to the ground.
    The plane was headed to Fullerton Airport from El Monte when it crashed.  It was about a mile from the airport when it struck the tower, which is located in a commercial area.
    In the sixties another small plane struck the tower and crashed in a parking lot across the street from the KFI transmitter site, but in that crash the KFI tower was not damaged.
This photo shows a cut in the concrete block wall
 made by the tower when it fell.  In the background
 you can see the smashed antenna tuning house.

This is a view of the antenna tuning house.
The top guy point of the tower is shown where it
landed on top of the structure.
The tower struck the ground with such force
 that it penetrated the asphalt in the parking lot
This is the point where the tower folded to the North
as it collapsed.  Here the tower is protruding into
the parking lot on the North side of the tower enclosure.

An overall view of the parking lot
 and the enclosure inside of which the tower base and antenna tuning house are located.  The tower can be seen extending to the North out into the parking lot.

These are aerial photos showing the position of the collapsed tower on the ground.

This is a part of the tower that landed
near the antenna tuning house and
partially buried itself in the ground
A once sturdy tower
 is now a twisted mess of steel.
Half of the vertical double base insulator
now rests in a horizontal position.
The other half of the double insulator
 remains in a vertical position.
  The Austin rings are still in place
 but there will be no tower lights tonight.

The tower slammed down
onto the reinforced concrete block wall
that circled the tower at a radius of 75 feet.
A view of the antenna tuning house
 and the tower base.  Base current has gone to zero.
  However, both coaxial cables going to
 the antenna tuning house are still holding pressure.

More twisted steel as the tower
lays across the concrete block wall 
surrounding the tower base
at a distance of 75 feet.
This is the top ten feet of the tower
 which was cut off by the airplane.  This piece
 landed next to the antenna tuning house.
  The part of the tower to which this piece was attached
 landed to the South and outside the concrete block wall
about 150 feet away.  Two of three lightning deterrent
brushes can be seen next to the top section.
The third was found about 70 feet to the West.
This bend in the tower, about 20 feet from the top,
is believed to have occurred when the plane struck
the tower and before the tower hit the ground.
This is the point about ten feet down
 from the top of the tower where the it
 was sheared off by the impact of the airplane.

Note the cement dust 
on the asphalt where the tower smashed
through the reinforced concrete block wall.
This is the top 100 feet of the tower.
The bend to the left is believed to have occurred
when the airplane struck and cut off the top ten feet
of the tower and before the tower hit the ground.

How KFI Remains On the Air
(Photos and Text by Robert Gonsett, W6VR)

KFI's Auxiliary Tower is keeping the station on the air following the collapse of the main tower. The Aux Tower is relatively short (200') for the wavelength at 640 kHz, but the radiation efficiency has been enhanced by "top loading." This is accomplished by electrically connecting the top set of guy wires to the tower instead of isolating them with insulators.  "Top loading" pulls more current up into the tower and causes the signal to radiate better, as if the tower were physically longer.  

A Close up view of the top of KFI's Auxiliary Tower
 reveals the absence of insulators between the top of the tower and the guy wires at that level.

Looking Back
(Photos courtesy of
Newcomb Weisenberger)

These old black and white photos show a prior tower collapse at KFI, probably in 1947.  That event was intentional.  The two towers that supported the original "flat top" wire antenna were purposefully dropped to the ground in anticipation of the new KFI tower.

These historical photos show the new 1947/48 tower being placed on the base insulator.  This is the tower that was destroyed on December 19, 2004.

We thank the source of these 4 historical photos,
 Newcomb Weisenberger, who emailed about the pictures,

they were taken by or belonged to Lyman Packard, who was present at the time of the pix.  Over twenty years later, no one else wanted the prints which were in the old operating desk. I think (it was) Lyman who actually handed them to me, (Otherwise, the pictures might have been trashed)."


Other Web Sites with Photos of the KFI Tower
Destruction may be Found at:



Newcomb Weisenberger's web pages are posted at
Barry Mishkind's web site, OldRadio.com.and at Earthsignals.com/Newcomb


Provided by: Earthsignals.com