NAS Fallon releases name of pilot killed in small airplane
Naval Air Station Fallon released on Monday the name of a medical officer who was killed Tuesday (July 7) in a single-engine airplane crash in the South Lake Tahoe Basin.
Spokesman Zip Upham said Cmdr. Christopher Joas, 53, died when the plane he was piloting crashed in a wooded area near the community of Meyers. Joas was assigned to the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center at Fallon on June 30, 2017, as the senior flight surgeon, and according to Upham, he was scheduled to leave Fallon in less than a month and report to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.
According to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department, deputies found the Cessna Skyhawk II crumpled and upside down in a wooded area with two people on board. The sheriff’s department reported the pilot died at the scene, and another passenger was airlifted in critical condition to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno where she later died. The Washoe County Medical Examiner identified the passenger Monday afternoon as Margaret McGuire, 51, who had recently owned the 8 Pieces of 8 shop on South Taylor Street in Fallon. The Fallon Chamber of Commerce said McGuire, who was known as Peggy on her Facebook page, closed her business in May and relocated to Reno.
The South Tahoe Daily Tribune reported the crash occurred off California State Route 89 near several homes. There was no fire associated with the crash. The ECSD said it has been in contact with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board, who will be conducting an investigation into the cause of the crash.
Upham said Joas came to Fallon from Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake where he was a flight physician and fight surgeon for VX-9, Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Nine (AIRTEVRON NINE, The Vampires). During his tour in Fallon, Upham said Joas was involved with the Longhorns Search and Rescueand accompanied the crew for training and provided medical assistance.
In a July 12, 2019, article in the Lahontan Valley News, the SAR team conducted a night rescue near Donner Summit west of Truckee, Calif. A rock climber was injured and stranded on a steep cliff, and he couldn’t be extracted by ground rescue.
According to the article, “The crew provided in-flight care —with the assistance of aeromedical flight surgeon Cmdr. Chris Joas onboard — during the 31-mile transit to Renown Regional Medical Center. The aircraft was given priority handling from Reno Tower and landed in the grass at Pickett Park across the street from the hospital at 1:09 a.m.”
Once the helicopter arrived in Reno, Renown Regional Medical Center took over.
“The hospital staff was very professional. They were ready and waiting with all hands on deck for the survivor when we arrived, leading to no delays in patient care,” Joas said.
Before that Upham said Joas was assigned to Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms’ clinic at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center near Bridgeport, Calif.
Joas graduated from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences where he obtained his medical degree. He had subsequent assignments to Bethesda, Md., and Pensacola, Fla. He also deployed to Balad, Iraq, with the Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component in 2008.