Watsonville Mid-Air Collision Victims Identified

A Cessna 340A reportedly clipped the wing of the Cessna 152.

A Cessna 340A crashed into a hangar next to a runway at Watsonville Municipal Airport August 18, after a mid-air collision with a 152, according to authorities. [Courtesy: City of Watsonville]

Officials have identified the victims of last week's deadly mid-air collision between a twin-engine Cessna 340A and a Cessna 152 in Watsonville, California. 

Carl Kruppa, 75, and Nannette Plett-Kruppa, 67, from Winton, California, and their dog were aboard the 340. Stuart Camenson, 32, from Santa Cruz was piloting the 152, according to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff-Coroner. The aircraft collided while on approach to Runway 20 at Watsonville Municipal Airport (KWVI) just before 3 p.m. on August 18. All occupants of the two aircraft were pronounced dead at the scene. 

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the 152—which was believed to be piloted by Camenson—was flying in the pattern when the 340—believed to be flown by Kruppa—performed a straight-in entry to the pattern with intent to land. The pilots were in radio communication with each other. In his last transmission, Camenson noted that the 340 was coming up behind him quickly, and announced he was going to go around. Both aircraft were on final approach when they collided.

Authorities Looking at Speed

Among the factors authorities are looking at is the speed of the 340. An ADS-B record shows the 340 approaching the airport at approximately 180 knots. The normal flap extension speed for the aircraft is 160 knots, and the landing gear extension is 140 knots, so it is unclear if the aircraft was actually configured for landing.

There were several witnesses to the accident. According to the San Jose Mercury News, 26-year-old Franky Herrera of Watsonville said the aircraft were at an altitude of approximately 200 feet when the twin-engine aircraft banked hard to the right, but clipped the wing of the 152. 

A security camera across the street from the airport caught images of wreckage falling from the sky as the 152 spiraled to the ground and came to rest in a field near the airport. Herrera said the other airplane continued for a few more seconds "but was struggling," the Mercury News reported. The twin crashed into a hangar at the other end of the airport and exploded in flames.

There were no injuries on the ground.

The Cessna 340A was registered to ALM Holding LLC and the 152 was registered to Monterey Bay Aviation and was part of the rental fleet at the Watsonville-based United Flight Service.

According to the FAA registry, Kruppa held a private pilot certificate for both single and multiengine aircraft.

Camenson could not be located in the registry, but family members told local media that he earned his private pilot certificate in 2020 and was an "avid flyer."

Both the NTSB and the FAA are investigating the crash. The preliminary report is expected to be released within a week. The final report could take up to two years to complete and be made public.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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