Porterville pilots remember man killed in Kern County plane crash

PORTERVILLE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Authorities have identified the Phoenix pilot who crashed his plane in Kern County Thursday night as 75-year-old Gilbert Gutierrez.

As pilots prepared to take off and land at the Porterville Municipal Airport, what happened to one of their own raced across the runway with them.

"It's a brotherhood," one pilot said. "And we're obviously sad to hear of the passing of one of the pilots."

Gutierrez was traveling from Phoenix to the Central Valley when his single-engine, older model plane went down in Kern County. He was less than a hundred miles away from his destination."

"We were expecting that particular aircraft to show up for this event for this clinic and when we heard the news we put two and two together," pilot Gal Lipaz said.

Lipaz says he and Gutierrez not only flew the same aircraft but were both participating in basic military formation training at an event called All Red Star.

It is here that pilots learn safe maneuvering techniques while also having a little fun.

"He has been flying with us for many years," he said. "Very likable guy, and, you know, it's very sad."

It's especially tragic since he was not able to park his aircraft on the tarmac and reconnect with the guys on his annual trip. So, a group of men held a moment of silence for Gutierrez Thursday night.

"We will miss him," Lipaz said. "We feel for him and mostly we feel for the family."

Now the FAA and the NTSB are both investigating, it is unknown at this time what caused the plane to crash. But the FAA says any plane, especially ones like these that are restored, has to get an airworthiness certificate before going up into the air.
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