Pilot killed in plane crash had Pahrump ties

It appears that the pilot who crashed his plane into a Southern California home killing four people on the ground and himself on Feb. 3, had ties to Pahrump, according to acquaintance and 14-year Pahrump resident Heidi Fleiss.

Fleiss spoke to the Pahrump Valley Times this week about Antonio Pastini, 75, of Gardnerville.

She said she met Pastini through her close friend Dennis Hof, who died Oct. 16, 2018.

Fleiss said Hof would often fly with Pastini to various destinations while campaigning for the Nevada Assembly District 36 seat during last year’s mid-term election season.

Hof went on to win the election posthumously.

Dinner jaunt

Fleiss noted that the day Pastini crashed his plane, he was headed up to Hof’s Bunny Ranch to have dinner.

“I didn’t really know Antonio all that well, but Dennis was so popular, that I would meet so many people through Dennis, including Antonio,” Fleiss recalled. “From my understanding, Antonio was a successful business owner and he had a restaurant and some other business dealings in Nevada. He also has a house here in Pahrump.”

Additional Pahrump connections

At least one of those business dealings involved the Nevada Restaurant Association, as Pastini served as an instructor for an entity known as ServSafe® Manager Food Safety training.

As recently as January of this year, Pastini taught a food safety training class for kitchen staff at the Pahrump Senior Center, according to Site Manager Anne Blankenship.

Blankenship noted that Pastini first contacted her through Dennis Hof.

“Mr. Pastini was looking for a location to hold a ServSafe class in Pahrump,” she said. “The food service management professional certification denotes outstanding personal achievement and communicates knowledge, leadership and professionalism to restaurant and food service employers. He has held two classes at the Pahrump Senior Center. Two of our employees took the class in January of this year at the center. I did not attend the class but stopped by and met Mr. Pastini and we spoke for just a few minutes. The class is an 8-hour class and exam to certify food handling personnel. Managers in restaurants and other food service operations are eligible. The exam assesses candidates on knowledge and skills related to food handling job activities.”

Investigation continues

As stated in a recent story reported by the Los Angeles Times, Pastini took off from Fullerton Municipal Airport in his Cessna 414, where about 10 minutes later, the aircraft broke apart and showered a Yorba Linda neighborhood with burning wreckage. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), investigators have not said what caused the crash.

Additionally, the FAA indicated that it has no evidence the crash was anything but some type of accident and that there were no signs of foul play.

“His plane was painted retro and it was really cool looking,” Fleiss reflected. “It’s just weird and you eventually realize that everything in life is just luck and timing. It’s been about four months since Dennis died and the truth is, we are not going to live forever. We are all going to die, but we just don’t know when. Of course, I miss my loyal friend. He was loved by so many people, including Antonio, and he had a really good life. He was always friendly and always happy and cordial. He was just a wonderful person and a real unique individual. He was really one of a kind. I also want to extend my deep condolences to Antonio’s family for their loss.”

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com, on Twitter: @pvtimes

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