Image shows moment of deadly Watsonville plane crash; expert breaks down NTSB's preliminary report

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Friday, September 16, 2022
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A stunning photo and new data are details included in NTSB's preliminary report on last month's deadly plane crash at Watsonville Municipal Airport.

WATSONVILLE, Calif. (KGO) -- New witness accounts, a stunning photo, and flight track data are details included in a newly released preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on last month's deadly mid-air plane collision at the Watsonville Municipal Airport. The report was released Thursday afternoon.

The harrowing photo was captured by a woman who was in her office. The report described, "The Cessna 340 appeared to be in a steep right bank and the Cessna 152 appeared to be in a slight nose-low attitude."

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The picture showed the moment the single-engine Cessna 152 and twin-engine Cessna 340 collided, killing three people and a dog.

"It does show distinctly that the twin-engine, at the very last moment, was turning to the right to avoid the other aircraft that clearly was making that turn," Aviation expert, Max Trescott with Aviation News Talk Podcast told ABC7 News. "Just a couple of seconds too late."

Trescott broke down the report. He explained the twin-engine - carrying Winton residents Carl Kruppa, Nannette Plett-Kruppa and a dog - was traveling too fast.

"This aircraft came into Watsonville regularly," he said. "It was about 80 knots faster on the day of the accident than it had been the prior weekend, when it arrived. That's almost 100 miles an hour faster."

Trescott said that particular aircraft has to slow from the speed it was at, down to below 140 in order to lower its landing gear and its flaps.

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"It was still at 180," he noted.

Trescott explained it is a speed that wouldn't have allowed for a safe landing under any circumstances.

"I think the pilot would have realized at some point, that he was too fast," he added. "He would have to then climb, go around and fly a rectangular pattern to try landing again."

He said, "There's really no rational explanation as to why he was that fast."

Piloting the single-engine Cessna was 32-year-old Stuart Camenson. The Santa Cruz resident was born and raised in Alamo.

The report confirms what his family told us previously - he was practicing touch-and-go landings. His family said Camenson was on his fifth and final attempt when the crash happened.

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"The most perishable skill that pilots have is the ability to land well," Trescott said. "So pilots will often go to the airport and practice flying the rectangular landing pattern for 5, 6, 7, even 10 times."

The report put one witness in a plane above the crash. The airport does not have a control tower, so the witness and others listened as the two pilots communicated over common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF).

Radio recordings indicate the two pilots - Kruppa and Camenson - were in communication, shortly before the crash.

Camenson is heard responding to Kruppa, acknowledging, "Yeah, I see you. You're behind me. I'm gonna go around then, you're coming at me pretty quick, man."

The witness told investigators Kruppa attempted to turn right. His left wing then struck Camenson's aircraft.

Another message went out to pilots in the area, that warned, "Everybody please be advised there has been an accident towards Runway 20 Watsonville."

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Camenson's family reacted to the report on Thursday.

In a statement, they explained, "Needless to say, our family is devastated by this senseless tragedy. The NTSB preliminary report does not inform us of anything that we did not already know. We are deeply saddened that neither plane had a chance to land safely. The NTSB report states that Stuart had accomplished four successful landings prior to the crash. The report also states 'The Cessna 152 pilot (Stuart) further stated that he was going around "because you are coming up on me pretty quick.'"

His family said, "Stuart was a cautious and meticulous pilot. Flying was a passion that he thoroughly enjoyed. The final NTSB report could take 18-24 months."

"Our family has been blessed by the love and support of countless kind and thoughtful people. We deeply feel the loss of Stuart. He was our beloved son and our daughters' beloved brother. We will feel this loss for the rest of our lives. Stuart was a very special person who made a positive difference on the lives of many. His loss is felt by a large group of friends and family," the statement concluded.

The NTSB report concluded with information about where the planes hit the ground.

"The Cessna 152 came to rest on the airport property about 1,200 feet northeast of the approach end of runway 20. The left wing, from the strut outboard, separated from the airplane and came to rest about 500 feet northeast of the main wreckage. The left horizontal stabilizer and elevator separated and came to rest about 380 feet northeast of the main wreckage," it read about Camenson's aircraft.

About the Kruppa's aircraft, the report explained, "Two small sections of the Cessna 340's left tip tank was located near the Cessna 152 wreckage. The Cessna 340 came to rest in a hangar located on the southeast side of the airport. All major components of the Cessna 340 were located in the debris area."

The NTSB reports both aircraft were recovered and are currently secured in a storage facility, pending further examination.

Camenson's friends created a GoFundMe campaign on behalf of his family. They want to create a memorial at the Watsonville Municipal Airport.

The online campaign reads, "Any funds leftover will be used to aid the Camenson family in their mental health needs."

Click here to contribute.

View the NTSB's full preliminary report below:

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