An Aviation Tragedy

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Embry-Riddle student killed in crash identified, NTSB continues investigation

Student and Designated Examiner die in Crash

Aviation is a close-knit business and many of the relationships are like family. Loss of a student and his teacher has an impact on all who share the passion for flight.

The recent crash of an ERAU, Zachary Capra, and his FAA Designated Examiner, John Azma, is a tragedy, especially since the flight was a step in the process of training the student to become a pilot. The aircraft was a Piper PA-28R-201and the site was on departure at Daytona Beach international.

The NTSB has begun its investigation. NTSB Investigator Aaron McCarter mentioned in his briefing was that the plane’s wing “departed the aircraft,” causing it to spin out of control and then slam into a cow field about a half mile from Daytona Beach International Airport. Thus, the Board will begin with looking at maintenance and engineering records.

For more details about the individuals, here’s a link to a story with more information about the two deceased.



The President of ERAU issued the following statements:

A Message from the President: Aircraft Accident in Daytona Beach

Apr 05, 2018, 2:51 PM

Yesterday, I was deeply saddened to let you know that a tragic aircraft accident had claimed the lives of an Embry-Riddle student pilot as well as a pilot examiner.

With a heavy heart, I can now confirm that the fallen were our student and U.S. Navy veteran Zachary Capra and John S. Azma, a highly experienced pilot examiner designated by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Zach, 25, had planned to graduate this summer with a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautics. He was a member of Embry-Riddle’s Student Veterans Organization, having transferred to the university following his service to the Navy (2012-2016). Zach had been an aviation boatswain’s mate on the USS Harry S. Truman. He graduated from Mountain Range High School in Westminster, Colo., and he attended Adam State University in 2011.

An aspiring pilot, Zach was described by a friend as someone who smiled often and never hesitated to provide encouragement to others.

Zach was the beloved son of Patsy and John Capra of Thornton, Colo.

John Azma, founder of AZMA Flt Inc. of Orlando, Fla., was well known and respected by many in the Embry-Riddle community. He was a highly decorated FAA-designated pilot examiner as well as a pilot proficiency examiner and a flight instructor, John had at least 20 years of flight experience and nearly a dozen unique jet aircraft-type ratings. His proficiencies encompassed many aircraft, from single-engine piston aircraft to multiengine turbine powered jets. He was known for his calm professionalism in the cockpit.

John is survived by his wife, Isabelle Azma, and their two sons.

We have all been shocked and devastated by this tragedy. We will continue to provide support for everyone in the Embry-Riddle community who is experiencing grief. We share our sincere condolences to all those affected by this loss.

The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting an in-depth investigation. We are working closely with authorities to support their efforts in any way we can. We will provide additional information on an ongoing basis, as soon as we possibly can.

Campus members in need of support at this time are encouraged to contact the Counseling Center or the Chaplain’s Office.

Published 4/4/18 12:40 p.m.

It is with profound sadness that I must inform you of an aircraft accident today that resulted in the loss of one of our student pilots as well as a passenger who was a designated pilot examiner with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

The identities of our student as well as the FAA examiner are not being publicly released at this time, pending notification of family members. Our prayers and deepest sympathies go out to all those affected by this devastating loss.

The cause of the accident, which was reported at 9:54 a.m. on Wednesday, April 4, 2018, near Tomoka Farms Road in Daytona Beach, Fla., has not been determined. Embry-Riddle is cooperating fully with all appropriate law enforcement and regulatory authorities.

We will communicate with you again as soon as we have any additional information.

The Embry-Riddle Counseling Center and the Chaplain’s Office are available to provide support, as needed, for students, faculty and staff.

In conjunction with Anne Botteri, vice president of marketing and communications, we will provide further information as it becomes available.


Barry Butler, Ph.D.







Rest in Peace

Zachary and John


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3 Comments on "An Aviation Tragedy"

  1. Michelle Capra Novak | May 7, 2018 at 2:05 pm | Reply

    I am the Aunt of Zachary Capra and my family is still in shock. Zachary was a great guy with a lot of ahead of him. He died what he loved to due. He never gave up on people and always encourage them to keep going when you felt like giving up. I will miss him terribly and will remember the good times that I spent with him. I am so proud of my nephew on what he accomplished in life in general and very proud to be his Aunt Michelle.

  2. Sandy Murdock | May 7, 2018 at 2:15 pm | Reply

    Ms. Novak, you should be proud of your nephew. This post received a very high level of attention from our readers.

  3. Michelle Capra Novak | June 19, 2018 at 8:54 pm | Reply

    Thank you Ms.Murdock,
    Zach was one of a kind. I know his biggest role model for him was my brother John. John and Zach had a great realtionship.
    I credit my brother John and his mom Patsy for guiding him through life. He will certainly be missed by the whole Capra family. Fly Free Zach. You will be missed.

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