NTSB report: Storms reported near 2019 Kern plane crash that killed 3

Local News

There was nothing wrong with the engines or the pilot of a plane that crashed, killing three people near Tehachapi two years ago, according to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

There was a thunderstorm and snow flurries in the area, the report notes, and it could not be determined why the plane was 41 miles off course when it slammed into a snowy mountain hillside at one of Kern’s highest elevations.

The 91-page “factual report,” released Wednesday does not attempt to determine a cause for the accident, outside Stallion Springs on Feb. 21, 2019.

The NTSB will use the factual report to determine the probable cause of the accident. That could take months, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Veteran pilot Ruben Piranian, 74, was flying two lawyers from Los Angeles’ Whiteman Airport to San Luis Obispo. They were on the return flight when the accident happened. Also killed were Marina Villavicencio, 38, and Felipe Plascencia, 54. All were from Southern California.

The crash site was 41 miles east of a direct course between the two airports, but there was no explanation why the pilot was apparently so far off course. No flight plan had been filed.  

The plane was a 1968 twin-engine four-seat Beech D55. It crashed about 4:45 p.m. that winter day. Debris indicate it hit a tree before slamming into a snow-covered hillside, according to Wednesday’s report.

The crash scene was at an altitude of 6,700 feet, the report said.

Both propellers were turning at the time of the crash, the report said. The engines were destroyed in the crash but no defects were found in the limited inspection that was possible. The entire airframe had been inspected 10 months earlier.

No drugs, alcohol or medical problems were found in the autopsy of the pilot.

The closest weather stations were at the Tehachapi airport and at an automated station on Bald Mountain, about 19 miles south of the accident site.

Those sites described rain and snow and thunderstorms in the hour before and after the estimated crash time of 4:45 p.m. Cloud cover varied depending on altitude, but spots with very limited visibility.  

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