A new report details the moments before two planes collided mid-air over Watsonville Municipal Airport, killing two Merced County people and a Santa Cruz resident.
The National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report on the accident details witness statements and records radio communications between the two planes, a Cessna 152 and a Cessna 340, before the collision.
Winton residents Carl Kruppa, 75, and Nannette Plett-Kruppa, 67, were killed in the Aug. 18 crash with Stuart Camenson, 32, of Santa Cruz. The report does not specify who was piloting each plane.
Before the crash happened, the Cessna 152 pilot said he saw the Cessna 340 and was behind it. The Cessna 152 pilot added that he was going to go around, “because you guys are catching up to me pretty quickly,” the report said.
Several witnesses reported hearing the two pilots communicating on the recorded common traffic advisory frequency. Others heard and observed the two planes collide. Watsonville Airport does not have a control tower.
A witness said he was flying over Watsonville Airport when he heard the two pilots communicating by radio. According to the report, the witness observed the Cessna 340 “on the tail of the Cessna 152” before it veered right and its left wing struck the Cessna 152.
Another witness took a photo from his office that shows the two planes approaching the airport.
The wreckage from the crash was recovered and secured in a storage facility for further examination.
The NTSB’s findings are preliminary and subject to change before the final report is completed.