Taft, CA Skydiving Plane Crashes, Oct 1982

Taft, CA Skydiving Disaster


Taft, Calif. (AP) -- An aircraft carrying skydivers stalled on takeoff, crashed and exploded in a "drop area" eight miles southeast of here Sunday afternoon, killing all 14 people aboard, officials said.
"It got 150 feet in the air and stalled out," said Art Armstrong, owner of the Taft School of Sport Parachuting. The plane had taken off from the school's landing strip.
"It veered off, landed on its left wing tip, and burst into flames like a bomb," Armstrong said.
He identified the victims only as the pilot, a jump instructor, an observer, a student jumper, and 10 experienced skydivers who were going to leap from the plane when it reached 12,500 feet.
The instructor, or "jump master," and the observer were women, Armstrong said. He declined to give additional information about the victims.

(The casualties were:
Pilot MONTY H. YARTER, 65, of Mount Helena Street, West Los Angeles, Calif.
MICHAEL LOMBARD, 35, Santa Ana, Calif.
BRADY LEE SANDERS, 59, Fullerton, Calif.
ALVIN AUTRY, 42, Santa Maria, Calif.
MARTIN ESTRADA, 36, Hacienda Heights, Calif.
RICHARD E. HAYDEN, 36, Torrance, Calif.
KATHY KINZER, 26, Beverly Hills, Calif.
GARY LEE KREIBEL, 28, Santa Maria, Calif.
DAVID LINDEMAN, 41, Quail Valley, Calif.
GLENN W. RACICH, 42, Manhattan Beach, Calif.
JAMES KENNETH SWORD, 22, Bakersfield, Calif.
ETOULA VAN PELT, 38, Lost Hills, Calif.
TERRY WARD, 40, Perris, Calif.)

The Kern County coroner was on the scene and officials said indentification would come from that office.
"I was advised there were 14 people aboard. Then I was advised there were no survivors," said Kern County Sheriff's Lt. Monroe Sandlin. Other emergency services officials confirmed that the number on board was 14.
Witnesses at the scene said the plane was a twin engine Beechcraft.
One witness, Herman Dargadz, a service station employee, said the plane took off, rose into the air, made a sharp turn and nosedived to the ground.
The plane exploded and burst into flames on impact. Dargadz said the charred bodies were mostly mangled in the wreckage, although he saw one body lyiing about 10 feet away.
Kern County Fire Capt. Alan Candia said emergency personnal and several clergymen were at the field shortly after the crash.
The crash occurred in good weather in a popular skydiving area about 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The region is desert and oil fields.

Daily Intelligencer Doylestown Pennsylvania 1982-10-18