An aviation entrepreneur and an oral surgeon (also a pilot), both from New York City, were killed in the crash of a Beechcraft G36 Bonanza on Saturday evening, July 3, in Colorado. David Zara, one of the founders of charter providers Zen Air and Tradewind Aviation, and Dr. Ruben Cohen took off from Aspen-Pitkin County Airport early Saturday evening. But when a friend reported them overdue at their destination airport in Des Moines, Iowa, mid-morning on Sunday, local Colorado authorities launched a search for the Bonanza. It isn’t clear which of the two pilots was flying.
The wreckage and the two men’s bodies were found near a mountain pass near the Continental Divide about nine to 12 miles from the departure airport. The pass tops out at just over 12,000 feet in elevation.
According to FlightAware data, an IFR flight plan route on file called for a northwesterly departure over lower terrain (see dotted line in image) followed by an easterly turn to the on-course heading for Des Moines, but the pilots reportedly canceled the IFR clearance before takeoff. FlightAware data shows the Bonanza circling over the city of Aspen while gaining altitude and then turning east toward the rising terrain.
In a statement, Connecticut-based Tradewind Aviation wrote: “Tradewind Aviation is devastated to hear of the loss of our friend and colleague David Zara this past Saturday. David was incredibly charismatic, thoughtful, and had a passion for flying. He will be deeply missed.” Zara had not been associated with Tradewind for several years, according to the company.
Cohen, who practiced in Manhattan, also owned Long Island-based LEC Aviation, according to The Aspen Times. The Bonanza’s registration was recently transferred to the company. Born in France, Cohen was known for his volunteer work in “towns and villages in Asia, Africa and Central America,” according to his online profile, which also noted he did pro bono rescue work at Ground Zero after the September 11 attacks.