Phoenix man killed in plane crash while flying to annual California event

Posted at 2:04 PM, Apr 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-29 11:25:01-04

A 75-year-old pilot has died while heading to a California gathering of vintage Soviet airplanes.

Kern County coroner's officials say Gilbert Thomas Gutierrez of Phoenix was killed in Thursday's crash. 

Gutierrez's single-engine aircraft went down near the town of Keene, about 75 miles north of Los Angeles. 

The Federal Aviation Administration says the plane was a Yak-18A, a type of training aircraft first produced in the 1950s.

Gutierrez was on his way to an event called "All Red Star" in Porterville, an annual gathering of enthusiasts of former Soviet and Communist Bloc aircraft. 

"We were looking forward to flying with our brother and friend," RedStar Pilots Association President Hartley Postlethwaite said.

Postlethwaite said the pilots had a moment of silence for Gutierrez Friday and may fly a missing man formation in his honor Saturday.

"Gill had a heart of gold, and was a great pilot. We miss him dearly," Postlethwaite said.

Gutierrez was a member of the Phoenix 100 Rotary Club.

"He will be missed," club president Joe Prewitt said. "It creates a hole. We can't replace someone like Gill."