SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The pilot in a deadly plane crash in Central California over the weekend had more than a passion for flying. Dave Chelini, 78, leaves behind two communities mourning him and his talents.
“It’s kind of devastating for everyone here,” said Augustine Joseph, CEO of Advanced International Aviation Academy. “It’s terrible I can’t even imagine. I couldn’t sleep yesterday. I was waking up every few hours to think about this. It was a shock.”READ MORE: Independent Study Program Overwhelmed As Sacramento City Unified Extends Vaccine Mandate Deadline
Joseph is still stunned to learn about the loss of a fellow pilot and good friend.
“He has been a pilot for many many years, more than I can remember or before I was born. He has so much experience and an exceptional pilot as I know,” said Joseph.
Joseph was at the airport when Chelini took off with his two daughters — Karen Baker, 46, and Donna Chelini, 48 — and his nephew Steven Chelini, 58. Tulare County sheriff’s investigators say their small plane went down in a field just west of Visalia Municipal Airport.
No one survived.READ MORE: Sacramento Man Indicted, Accused Of Plotting To Kill Or Kidnap President Biden, VP Harris
“I realize now that that will be the last time I ever play with Dave and there will never be another Dave Chelini,” said Jim Shoemaker.
Aside from flying, Chelini had a passion for playing the accordion. Shoemaker says Chelini stood out in the community as a music leader who was a dedicated teacher to students who were both children and adults. Now, Shoemaker mourns a fellow musician.
“There’s not a lot of us left. It’s a different era now. The accordion was our definite connection,” said Shoemaker.
A cold and dreary night set the tone at the Sacramento Executive Airport after the family of four never made it back.
“He would visit me here just to talk about music and aviation,” said Joseph. “He was a completely whole beautiful human being.”MORE NEWS: Foresthill Bridge Reopened After Hazmat Incident, Deputy Hospitalized
Chelini was flying a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza. There’s no telling what caused it to go down. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are both investigating.