A plane crash near Lake Berryessa, in Napa County, California, has killed two people. The crash occurred Monday, May 8, at around 9:00 a.m. in a remote area of Napa County. Killed in the crash were the 55-year-old pilot, Jon Murray Karkow, and 41-year-old Cagri Sever. Both were reportedly employees of ICON Aircraft. Officials are now investigating what caused the small amphibious plane to crash.
Officials Investigating Lake Berryessa Plane Crash
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are investigating the Lake Berryessa plane crash. According to reports the plane had been airborne for 20 minutes before it crashed. The weather at the lake was 65 degrees and sunny, with northeast winds of around 2 miles per hour. A preliminary report on the plane crash is expected in mid-May.
The plane crashed into the eastern end of Lake Berryessa, between Markley Cove Resort and Pleasure Cove Marina, an area near ICON’s Vacaville training facility, officials reported. The area was remote enough that boats were required to access the crash site.
Amphibious Plane Involved in California Crash
The plane involved in the crash was a single-engine ICON A5 Amphibious Light-Sport Aircraft. The plane is designed to land on either land or water and is listed for sale at around $189,000. ICON designed the A5 so that it would appeal to both beginner and recreational pilots, and although owners of the plane have to undergo pilot training before they can fly the plane, they don’t need a full pilot’s license to operate it.
The ICON A5 can travel at a top speed of around 120 miles per hour and carries a parachute. This is reportedly the first fatal crash involving the A5, although an A5 was damaged in a hard landing in April. In that case, however, both people on board survived the accident and the company blamed the incident on pilot error.
The plane has a stall-resistant design and was the first aircraft to meet new spin-resistance standards implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration. Tracy Vaniwarden, who has flown an ICON A5 plane, told NBC that the aircraft is “extremely safe.”
“Even with engine failure, you can land on the water, so there’s no great risk there. So to see the photos that I saw, something catastrophic happened.”
One report suggests that the crash scene could indicate the plane experienced a steep vertical descent prior to crashing, but exactly what happened won’t be known until the NTSB and FAA conclude their investigation. All factors involved in the plane crash, including weather, pilot error, mechanical problems, and possible obstructions will be investigated.
Jon Karkow Was Lead Engineer on ICON Plane
Wired reports that Jon Karkow was ICON’s lead aeronautical engineer and Cagri Severe was a colleague at the company. Prior to working at ICON, Karkow worked at Scaled Composites where he led the engineering teams for five airplanes and at least 20 aircraft programs. Karkow had experience piloting more difficult aircraft, leaving some experts wondering what could have caused this crash.
Sever had only started working for ICON a few weeks before the crash, following a stint as manager of product design and development at Ford Motor Company.
ICON Issues Statement on Plane Crash
Following the plane crash, ICON Aircraft CEO Kirk Hawkins released a statement on behalf of the company.
“This was a devastating personal loss for many of us. Once arrangements have been made with all the families involved we will let you know more… The thoughts and prayers of our entire organization are with the families of both people on board, they were both truly amazing individuals.”
Second Plane Crash at Lake Berryessa in a Month
Lake Berryessa is reportedly a busy place for planes and the ICON crash was the second to happen in just over a week. Nine days prior to the ICON accident, two passengers suffered minor injuries when the pontoon plane they were in crashed into the lake as they practiced touch-and-go landings. The plane involved in that crash was a 2003 Glasstar experimental floatplane.
“We get a lot of people up there doing touchdowns with their float boats and stuff like that so it’s fairly common to have a lot of planes up here at the lake,” said Captain Keith Behlmer.
Airplane Crash Attorney
Attorneys at Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman are experienced in aviation litigation and can answer questions you may have about your case. If you or a loved one has been involved in a plane crash or a helicopter crash, contact us for a free case evaluation.