Sunday, May 20, 2018

ICA IS-29D, N38ES: Fatal accident occurred May 19, 2018 near Avenal Airport (CA69), Kings County, California

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Fresno, California

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Avenal, CA
Accident Number: WPR18FA143
Date & Time: 05/19/2018, PDT
Registration: N38ES
Aircraft: I.C.A.-BRASOV (ROMANIA) IS 29D
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On May 19, 2018, at an unknown time, an ICA-Brasov IS-29D Lark glider, N38ES, was destroyed after an in-flight separation and impact with mountainous terrain during a flight near Avenal, California. The pilot, who was one of two co-owners, was fatally injured. The glider was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from the Avenal airport (CA69), Avenal, California and was released from the tow plane about 1227 Pacific daylight time.

The Romanian-manufactured 1974 glider was designed with removable wings and horizontal stabilizer to enable it to be stored and transported in a custom enclosed trailer. According to the other co-owner, he and the accident pilot had purchased the dis-assembled glider several months ago from the previous owner in Kansas. The co-owner reported that the glider had last been flown about 7 years prior. The glider was trailered to Merced, California, where the co-owner and pilot, who also held an aircraft mechanic certificate with airframe, powerplant, and inspection authorization ratings, examined the glider in detail. It remained unassembled, and was then trailered to Fresno, California, where it was inspected again by the two co-owners. A few weeks prior to the accident, it was trailered to Avenal Airport (designated CA69, and generally referred to as "Avenal Gliderport"), Avenal, California, where the two co-owners and another individual assembled it. The co-owners were members of the Central California Soaring Club (CCSC), which was based at CA69.

On the day of the accident, as its first flight under the new co-owners, the glider was towed aloft from CA69, and released for flight about 1227. About 1 hour later, the pilot radioed to his CCSC colleagues that all was well and that he planned to continue flying. That was the last communication from the pilot. About 1830, two CCSC pilots departed CA69 in a towplane to locate the pilot or glider. They visually spotted two separate sections of wreckage about an hour later, in the mountains about 5 miles southwest of CA69.

Examination of the accident site by Federal Aviation Administration and NTSB personnel revealed that both wings had separated from the fuselage; the right wing was fracture-separated into two sections, and the left wing was essentially intact. The empennage was fracture-separated from the fuselage, and the T-configuration horizontal stabilizer was fracture-separated from the vertical stabilizer. The evidence was consistent with the fact that the pilot, who was wearing a parachute, had attempted to exit the glider. The wreckage will be recovered to a secure facility for detailed examination.

According to family and CCSC colleagues, the pilot was a competent and thorough mechanic, and a highly experienced glider pilot. The pilot used a "FlywithCE" GPS position datalogger, which was recovered at the accident site. The device will be sent to the NTSB recorders laboratory in Washington, DC for possible data extraction. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: I.C.A.-BRASOV (ROMANIA)
Registration: N38ES
Model/Series: IS 29D D
Aircraft Category: Glider
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation:
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point:
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction:
Lowest Ceiling:
Altimeter Setting:
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point: Avenal, CA (CA69)
Destination: Avenal, CA (CA69) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  35.937500, -120.218611

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

KINGS COUNTY, Calif. - The local aviation community is in mourning as they remember one of their own.

59-years-old Jan Zanutto, died in a glider crash Saturday, just after 7:30 p.m.

The Kings County Sheriff's Office said the crash happened about seven miles west of the City of Avenal.

We spoke with people from Zanutto's church. They said his wife and family are still processing their heartbreaking loss.

None were ready to speak on camera.

But Dan Gudgel, a friend of Zanutto's who we spoke with over the phone, said he was a fine aviator and good man.

"It is sad, it's been a very melancholic day for me because of the loss," Gudgel, an aviation consultant, said.

Saturday, officials said Zanutto was out flying a single-place glider.

But shortly after 7:30 officials said they received a call regarding an overdue glider pilot from the Avenal Glider Port.

Gudgel recounting the moments leading up to the death of his friend, a well-known aviation mechanic and pilot.

"He was just flying longer than what we thought he was going to fly," he said.

Gudgel said he was texting with the co-owner of Zanutto's glider, who was out on the scene.

"We began to grow concern that he was overdue and then it got to the point where it was obvious he was not still flying," he expressed. 

Gudgel said they thought there was a malfunction with Zanutto's radio that didn't allow him to communicate.

But hours later the glider wreckage was spotted.

He said officials also thought they saw a parachute.

"We thought that well maybe he got out but it was around 1 o'clock in the morning before Kings County Sheriff Deputies could reach the spot and at that point they confirmed that it was fatal," Gudgel said.

He said Zanutto's death is a tragic loss not only for the aviation community but for those who knew him.

"It could have been any of us, he's a very fine Christian gentleman, he was always helping other people," Gudgel said.

Kings County Sheriff's Office said the crash remains under investigation.

Gudgel said the National Transportation Safety Board will also be looking into the crash.

Story and video  ➤

The Kings County Sheriff's Office said the pilot of a wrecked glider was found dead around midnight Saturday.

At around 7:40 p.m., the office received a call about an overdue glider pilot from the Avenal Glider Port. The office along with Avenal police and Kings County Fire began a search around the Avenal Airport.

At about midnight, they located the wrecked glider and deceased pilot seven miles west of Avenal, office officials say.

The pilot was identified as Jan Zanutto, 59, of Fresno.

Sunday morning, a Kings County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher told The Bee that the last of law enforcement's efforts was the search. The accident was then passed along to the National Transportation Safety Board

Original article ➤

On Saturday May 19, at about 7:30 Pm. The Kings County Sheriff’s office received a call regarding an overdue glider pilot from the Avenal Glider Port. The Sheriff’s office along with Avenal Police and Kings County Fire began a search in the area around the Avenal airport.

At about midnight, the wrecked glider was located approximately seven miles west of the City of Avenal. When personnel arrived on scene, they located the pilot who was unfortunately deceased. The name of the pilot is Jan Zanuito, DOB 8/16/59, 59 years old. From Fresno Ca.

Original article ➤

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