The planes missed each other by less than 50 feet Wednesday after the United Express pilot avoided the America West flight by pulling up suddenly to gain altitude, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.
The pilot of America West Flight 6008 from Phoenix, which had just landed, had been told by controllers to stop short of the inner runway, but drove onto it in error just as United Express Flight 6037 to Monterey, Calif., was taking off, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown said.
"Traffic unauthorized crossing down field!" a controller from the tower yelled into the radio to warn the United Express pilot, who pulled up early, risking a stall.
The United Express pilot was "past the point where he could have stopped," Brown said.
Officials blamed the close call on the America West pilot, who said he was confused about precisely where to stop, the Times said.