Wednesday, January 17, 2007

VNY Citation accident pilots named

The two pilots who were flying the Cessna Citation that crashed last week shortly after takeoff from Van Nuys have been identified. According to an Associated Press article on the KABC TV website, the men's names were Frank Kratzer, 72, and Fernando Fernandez, 49. Both pilots perished in the accident.

No one else was aboard the aircraft at the time of the accident. Media reports have said that the aircraft was being repositioned from Van Nuys to Long Beach where it was to pick up charter passengers for a flight to Prescott, AZ.

The aircraft was owned by Sun Quest Executive Air Charter. Frank Kratzer was the founder and owner of that company. A former airline pilot for both Western Airlines and Delta Air Lines, he had logged over 37,000 flying hours. According to an article on the website of the Press Telegram in Long Beach:
In the early 1980s, he launched Mobile Flight Training at Whiteman Airport, which later become Sun Quest Flight School. In 1992, he founded a Sun Quest charter service company in Van Nuys.

An excellent instructor, he had trained an entire generation of pilots, friends say.
The same article says Fernando Fernandez had been one of those students.
"Chris" Fernandez, as he was also known, was a self-employed Hollywood studios electrician before pursuing a career as a pilot, associates said.

A student of Sun Quest, he had logged several thousand flight hours and had flown for the company since August. He had been active in the Latin American Pilots Association and regularly flew his Beechcraft Baron to Mexico.

"He was one of those really easy-going guys who always had something positive to say," Watts said.
Regarding the accident, the NTSB said that soon after takeoff, the pilot radioed the tower with a request to return, and the aircraft was cleared to land. They didn't make it.

At least one witness said he noticed that a nose compartment door was open as the plane took off, but no cause has yet been determined for the crash. Sun Quest has grounded at least two other Citations while the accident investigation continues.

Condolences to the family and friends of the two pilots who were lost.