Sonoma plane crash victims identified


Coroner’s officials have identified the victims of a Thursday evening plane crash near the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport as Marsha Gail Gastwirth, 68, and Donald Gordon MacKenzie, 69, of Santa Rosa.

MacKenzie served on the board of the Pacific Coast Air Museum for roughly a year, according to PCAM Director Art Hayssen. MacKenzie also volunteered for the museum before being named to the board.

NTSB air safety investigator Stephen Stein said the wreckage of the 1969 Piper PA-24 260 Comanche will be removed Saturday and transported to Sacramento for a preliminary report, which should take five to 10 days, Stein said.

The 4-seat, 6-cylinder plane went down around 7 p.m. near Wood Ranch Road at Wood Road a half-mile to a mile away from Runway 32. The plane left Palm Springs International Airport for a direct flight to Santa Rosa, Stein said.

Jonathan Stout, manager of the Sonoma County airport, said the plane was within the normal landing path and not off course. There were clouds at 900 feet above ground level and the pilot was using instrumentation, Stout said.

The tower at the airport is in operation 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Stout said.

Stein said the plane was registered to Tango Romeo Aviation in Sebastopol and was based at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport.

The crash left a crater and small debris field, and the plane was substantially damaged, Stein said. The left wing separated from the fuselage on impact, Stein said.

One of the deceased was found about 20 feet from the plane and the other was with the wreckage, Stein said.

The pilot communicated with the Oakland air traffic control center in Oakland and with the tower at the Sonoma County airport, Stein said. Stein said he did not know if the pilot gave a distress signal.

Stout said there are 82,000 take offs and landings a year at the airport and 385 commercial, private, corporate and charter aircraft are based there.

Alaska Airlines flies to Seattle, Los Angeles, Portland and San Diego out of the Sonoma County airport. Service to Orange County is scheduled to start in March.

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