By Sylvie Peron

David Zara, our trusted pilot-contributor and dear friend for many years, died in an airplane crash outside of Aspen, Colorado on Saturday July 3.

Ruben Cohen and David Zara were the only occupants of a Beechcraft G36 Bonanza that crashed about 12 miles South-east of Aspen near the Continental Divide shortly after departing for Des Moines, Iowa. According to Federal Aviation Administration records both men were licensed pilots. David Zara, 58, was the more experienced pilot of the two. In May he had earned his airline transport pilot certificate, the highest level of pilot certification. He had previously founded charter companies Zen Air and Tradewind Aviation.

The Bonanza, a fixed-wing single-engine aircraft built in 2007 was registered under LEC Aviation, a limited liability company created by New York’s Park Avenue Dr Ruben Cohen in April. 

The aircraft had taken off from Napa, California at 7:32 a.m Saturday and touched down at Aspen-Pitkin County Airport at 1:53 p.m., both times local.

The Bonanza then departed from the Aspen airport at 6:24 p.m. Less than 14 minutes into the flight, it crashed near Midway Pass, in the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness.

The Pitkin County Regional Emergency Dispatch Center received a phone call midmorning Sunday from a concerned friend reporting the aircraft had gone missing. A ground team from Mountain Rescue Aspen, working with a helicopter from the Colorado Army National Guard in Gypsum, located the wreckage and victims Sunday. The bodies of both victims were recovered as well.