Aspen airport remains closed after private jet crash

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

ASPEN, Colo. --The Aspen-Pitkin County Airport remained closed Monday night and there was no timetable for when it would reopen following the crash of a private jet Sunday.

The wreckage of the plane remained on the runway as officials from the National Transportation Safety Board began their investigation Monday.

The copilot of the 22-seat Bombardier Challenger 600 was killed. He's identified as Emilio Carranza Brabata, 54, of Mexico. Two other men on the plane, Miguel Angel Henriquez and Moises Carranza Brabata, also of Mexico were injured and in St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction Monday.

All three men are pilots and they were the only people on board. The survivors have moderate to severe traumatic injuries.

Buses carried about 200 stranded passengers from Aspen to Denver International Airport Monday. The first four outbound flights from Aspen were canceled Tuesday. Buses were scheduled to leave for Denver at 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00 a.m.

The plane burst into flames when it crashed while landing Sunday afternoon according to the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office.

The pilot of the twin-engine jet earlier reported high winds during a previous attempt to land, according to a recording of the air traffic control radio transmission. The crash occurred about 12:23 p.m. as they came in for another try.

"Missed approach, N115WF.  33 knots of tail wind," the pilot is heard saying a few minutes before the crash.

The aircraft flipped over on impact and became fully engulfed in flames, police said.

According to the flight tracking website, the aircraft was on a flight from Tucson, Ariz.

"Right now, we have no indication that there was anything wrong prior to landing. However, we do have investigators on scene," PCSO spokesman Alex Burchetta said.

Multiple witnesses tweeted about seeing the accident. Celebrities Kevin Nealon and LeAnn Rimes Cibrian were both apparently in the area.

Many pilots consider the airport a challenging destination due to the surrounding mountains. A private jet crash at the airport in 2001 killed all 18 people aboard.



  • DJ

    Obviously since they were flying in a private jet they have more money, they were smarter than you! You are talking about a dead man, a human being!

  • Micsull

    As a professional pilot I can tell you if he had
    a 30 kt tail wind he was landing on the
    wrong runway. Landing any airplane should
    Be done into the wind. Going with the
    wind at a slow speed the plane will lose
    lift and stall. Any student pilot knows that.
    If he couldn’t land in the opposite direction
    due to high terrain then he should have l
    landed at an alternate airport. Dumb,
    dumb, dumb pilot error.

  • VP

    @ Micsull: as a Certified Flight Instructor who has some familiarity with KASE, you would be wise to check the AF/D and get your facts straight prior to assigning blame on the PIC. Due to noise abatement procedures this PIC may have had only one choice for a landing direction. Granted a diversion to KEGE would have been a prudent decision; however, neither of us are privy to the PIC’s decisions made prior to the second landing attempt. As a professional pilot you should allow the NTSB to do their work and refrain from making uninformed and quite insulting judgments.

  • Chastin Seeby

    The plane has a 10 kt tailwind restriction. The pilot acknowledged the there was a 30 kt tailwind, and still attempted to land. A diversion should had been made.

  • Eddie

    Eagle handles 727’s in any wind. Those bozos at Aspen should have made him turn north, he got blown right off the approach.


    The pilot made the wrong decision. Why we may never know. With over 17,000 hrs. of flight time I have to admit to I have made more than one bad call. Too bad it happened and it will happen again no matter how much flight time you have pilots are often under pressure to the demands of others or desire to prove themselves.

  • Tom Ladtkow

    Yeah and Payton Manning should have….wait a minute…That’s different arm chair quarterbacking…All of us pilots have done things we wish we hadn’t done and by the grace of God survived. Sadly, one of these poor souls did not..Aspen is a challenging approach in good weather…In hindsight, I am sure these pilot would now choose Rifle or Eagle…RIP

  • Ric Rivera

    John Moorhead comment re altitude. it is closer to 7,000, not 700. Re John Denver – he lived in Aspen but the private plane he was piloting went down in the ocean. Don’t know why discussion with tower and pilot wouldn’t have directed them to Eagle. Sardy Field is not a place to chance it.

  • Chee

    I hear customs and DEA stripped the plane in Tucson when the final destination was logged to Aspen. Dogs big time.

  • Linda

    I am very sorry to hear about this terrible accident. Who were they flying into Aspen and pick? Sounds like the pilots were under some kind of pressure to pick someone up?

    • Ric Rivera

      Their flight originated in Mexico City, stopped in Tucson then on to Aspen. The plane holds 22 passengers so anyone’s guess on who they were picking up. You can bet it was some wealthy aristocrats from Mexico’s upper crust or drug dealers???. Aspen is full of world travelers at Xmas time. See and be seen crowd, most with their noses higher than the Rockies. I still love Aspen – you just have to avoid the chosen ones. In retrospect, they should have flown into Eagle in the Vail Valley, some 70 minutes from Aspen.and a much safer airport.

Comments are closed.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.