Two men killed after small plane crash in Napa area ID'd
Two men who died in a plane crash in Napa County Monday morning, both worked for the aircraft maker, Icon Aircraft.
"We are focused on their families and we are focused on our employees," company co-founder and President Steen Strand told KTVU, outside headquarters in Vacaville.
Icon moved into the 100,000 square foot plant 2 years ago, located next to the Nut Tree Airport, where it flies its A-5 sport seaplane on demonstration and teaching flights.
Monday, at about 9:30, an A-5 crashed on Lake Berryessa and slammed into the bank.
Most of the single-engine two-seater was intact, with the tail and a wing partially submerged.
The wreckage, and the victim's bodies, were only reachable by boat.
"We are looking for witnesses," Napa County Sheriff's Capt. Keith Behlmer told KTVU.
"Supposedly, a fisherman called it in, and we're trying to reach him, but we don't know if he saw the actual crash. Other than that, we have no eye witnesses to the crash."
The victims are identified as 55 year old Jon Karkow, lead engineer at Icon, who was piloting the plane and his passenger 41 year old Cagri Sever, also an employee.
"It's been a very, very tough day for us," said Strand sadly.
"We've just had two of our employees, two of our family members, die in an accident in an airplane we've labored on for ten years."
The A-5 is an amphibious plane that can take off and land on water or land.
About 20 are flying now, and more than 1800 people have placed orders for the aircraft.
The company promises to "democratize" flying by making it easier and more accessible. The plane has foldable wings, so it can be stored and towed anywhere.
And the "sport pilot" license can be earned in as little as twenty hours of flight time.
The aircraft costs $190,000, but training is additional.
"It's all very stable airplane, very easy to fly, it's a great little airplane," airplane mechanic Tracy VanIwarden told KTVU, as he closed up his shop, Aviation Specialties, at Nut Tree Airport.
VanIwarden has done work for for Icon lead engineer Karkow, who was a veteran test-pilot and rated to fly numerous aircraft.
"He definitely loved flying, and he did all their test flying," recalled VanIwarden," and Icon is is near and dear to everybody on the field, because they're introducing a new type aircraft, new to the industry and it's exciting."
It's Icon's first crash causing injury or death, but not their first major mishap.
Just last month, at Icon's other flight operation Tampa, an A-5 cracked it's hull and took on water during a hard water landing. No one was injured that time, and Icon blamed pilot error.
As for Monday's crash, NTSB expect to have a preliminary report in a week.
"Right now it's a challenge because the plane is partly submerged and on a steep incline," explained NTSB investigator Josh Cawthra, at the scene.
"I know it's a tremendous hit , very devastating to the industry and the company, so we offer our condolences," he added.
The plane was only in the air for about 20 minutes before it crashed, but company president Strand would not discuss what the nature of the flight was.
"I'm not going to get into the specifics of the airplane or safety. Certainly there's a lot we could talk about there, but the events of the day are all we're focused on."
The sport classification requires that the aircraft fly only in favorable conditions, and at a lower speed and altitude than general aviation aircraft.