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Crash claims four young lives

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Posted: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 2:15 pm

A determined search ended grimly Wednesday when the wreckage of a small plane was found on a rugged, remote hillside southwest of Dixon.

Soon after the crash site was located, Lake and Sanders county law enforcement officials announced that none of the four people on board had survived.

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          Welcome to the discussion.


          • CountryJune posted at 4:25 pm on Sun, Jul 11, 2010.

            CountryJune Posts: 4

            Those we love remain with us
            For love itself lives on,
            And cherished memories never fade
            Because a loved one's gone.
            Those we love can never be
            More than a thought apart,
            For as long as there is memory,
            They'll live on in the heart.

          • arrowd posted at 3:43 pm on Tue, Jul 6, 2010.

            arrowd Posts: 5

            Yes...IF that was the cause. Probable? Sure. But no NTSB report, so now is not the time to say this could have been prevented. Also remember this kid had only one hundred hours. The average pilot uses 72 hours to gain his license. If he was average, he had only about 30 hours as command pilot. How many in the Arrow? This is a complex airplane. He may have learned in a high wing airplane and went to the Arrow, a low wing. In any case, any one of us could have been here as a new pilot, young,no experience wanting to enjoy the sky. Steve Fossett got caught the same way. Yet he had thousands of hours. While this can happen to anyone, there is nothing like experience. I flew in South Florida for years. The boomers build in minutes. You can be surrounded with no place to go very quickly. Convective currents extend 20 miles from center. Shred an airplane in seconds. Then the mountains with their own dangers. I'd say, until 300 hrs or so you can make an easy mistake, that kills you. As I was taught, "Flying is, and of itself, not dangerous. However, it is terribly unforgiving of any mistakes". Could this have been prevented? IF not a mechanical failure, maybe. But you just can't prevent accidents by young, inexperienced people doing anything. Let alone flying a complex airplane. Cut him some slack.

          • skylane posted at 11:06 am on Tue, Jul 6, 2010.

            skylane Posts: 6

            4 Adults in a plane with no more than 150-180 hp on a day where temperatures were hovering in the upper 70s low 80s in area is a recipe for tragedy. The Pilot in Command should have known this and acted appropriately. A poster implied we need more rules and regulations to prevent this.... sorry, no thanks.....we need more personal responsibility.

            This could have easily been prevented. Sad for all.

          • maxwell posted at 6:46 pm on Fri, Jul 2, 2010.

            maxwell Posts: 55

            Yes this has a very sad ending, but I fully agree with Flight_Instructor and Ironmen150. And I'm sure them kids would want others to know, what not to do. I to got slammed in the other blog of this story. I feel for this young mans flight instructor. As an scuba instructor, when we have finished our class, I always hope they fully understood everything. It's life or death in some of lifes pleasures. All we can do is make new rules, and change our attatudes, and lets go beyond than just safe. Extra safe sound good to me.

          • ironmen150 posted at 1:05 am on Fri, Jul 2, 2010.

            ironmen150 Posts: 1

            I apologize if this seems "Insensitive" to others. But do you not come to the daily inter-lake's website to obtain information? To get the facts? Flight Instructor is simply stating the facts that are to his best knowledge. There is a good portion of us that are reading these comments for insight on this particular situation. I understand that the family s and friends are going through unbearable pain. But this is a News website. Give him some slack for educating the readers on what may have been the cause of the accident. I too have heard the same explanation from a very reliable source.

            Is it right? Maybe. The fact is he is just trying to inform the public. And thankfully from his comments I have obtain a great deal of information that could help me make better judgment calls in the future.

            This forum is not the families guest book for the funeral, its a news papers website intended to inform the public.

            So let the information flow. I am greatly saddened by this tragic accident, and pray for the families but must state what I strongly feel needs to be stated.

          • Rebel Rouser posted at 8:20 pm on Thu, Jul 1, 2010.

            Rebel Rouser Posts: 1565

            DJohnson, very well said. Very well said indeed. The price of loss can only be determined through the process of losing.

          • AMontgomery posted at 6:32 pm on Thu, Jul 1, 2010.

            AMontgomery Posts: 1

            I am a friend and former co-worker of Erika's. I knew her simply as E. I had the honor of sitting across from her in a newsroom for a year. Her smile, brilliant red hair and sense of humor made me laugh every day. The four people who died in Sunday's accident were loved by their families and friends, and they all have my sympathies. I'd like to thank the reporters and staff at the Inter-Lake for their reporting in recent days. Thanks to the Internet, those of us living outside of Montana have been able to follow the search, and unfortunately, now the recovery of those we loved. As a newspaper person, I know the pain of having to write about people you work with and loved in a time of crisis. It's unbelieveable hard. You have handled it so well and should be commended. You pegged E perfectly....6 foot tall and walking through the newsroom room in her high heels. I'm sure your description of Melissa was also spot on. Thank you for welcoming E into your newspaper family, and loving her and taking care of her while she was in Montana. I'm not ready to say good bye to my friend yet. Soon I'll have no choice.

          • pberzinski posted at 5:41 pm on Thu, Jul 1, 2010.

            pberzinski Posts: 1

            In reading some of the posts, Mr. Pecks struck me most. My daughter and Erika were classmates and friends. The pain she feels makes the pain Bill, Candy, Jessica and Kyle and extended family, incomprehensible. To me, why the crash happened does not matter. Four lovely souls were lost, and that is tragic. My sympathies go to each family. Erika Hoefer was a vivacious, larger than life personality. She truly lived each day. She will be remembered very fondly. God Bless.

          • DJohnson posted at 4:37 pm on Thu, Jul 1, 2010.

            DJohnson Posts: 1

            As a former Beloiter, I followed this story through the Beloit Daily News and this paper very closely as it unfolded.
            To Mr. Hoefer's former co-worker, with all due respect, I can assure you that you don't have a clue what the family is going through. I learned just two weeks prior to this past Christmas what its like to lose a daughter when mine was killed in an odd accident. When my two brothers died far too young I thought I had a clue as to what our mother was going through. December 2009 gave me a wakeup slap that I will never forget.
            To the co-workers, family and friends, I offer heart felt sympathies and prayers for your comfort and peace of heart and mind.
            Its not going to be easy and your mind will be filled with questions at all level of sanity and insanity.
            To the flight instructor, be gentle in your assessments. The reasons, causes or meanings behind the loss of the four is irrelevant. The fact is that four young people have died and four families are in mourning the kind of which they never thought they could imagine nor endure.
            May the four of you all walk with God and may the families find the peace and understanding of God as you travel along this journey of pain and loss.

          • Howard posted at 3:59 pm on Thu, Jul 1, 2010.

            Howard Posts: 2

            Are you serious Flight_Instructor!?!? Its called tact. Get some. I too can summarize what probably happened but you don't need to go about and start spoutin from the mouth about the scientific nature behind it. There are four families in this ordeal and to go about spitting blame does not help the situation. I'm sure you are a very smart individual but your only book smart. Do us all a favor and get some common sense bud.

          • Flight_Instructor posted at 2:40 pm on Thu, Jul 1, 2010.

            Flight_Instructor Posts: 4

            Actually, MtWildOne, as I wrote, I DO know what happened. It happens every summer in the Rockies and Sierras. Same old story, each time.

            Read my posts...I might know what I'm talking about, since I make my living trying to teach pilots how to avoid making these exact same mistakes.

          • MTWILDONE posted at 2:16 pm on Thu, Jul 1, 2010.

            MTWILDONE Posts: 1

            Flight Instructor - I think you are being very judgemental - tictac was not being rude or OFFENSIVE in any way? What about your insensitive comments about this crash basically being the Pilot's fault? What about that mother - how would she feel about your comments? YOU dont know what happened out there and until you do, why dont you keep your know-it-all comments to yourself and pay your respects to the families.

          • Flight_Instructor posted at 1:08 pm on Thu, Jul 1, 2010.

            Flight_Instructor Posts: 4

            tictac wrote: "God needed them more than us"

            Now, that is OFFENSIVE. God didn't "need" them dead! God needed them here where they would be most likely to be able to do His work on earth. But unfortunately, a young, likely inexperienced pilot violated several important rules of mountain flying that resulted in a rather predictable accident (see my previous post). God had nothing to do with that! Jeez.

            Maybe I should report that offensive comment to the editors before the families see it.

          • Flight_Instructor posted at 1:02 pm on Thu, Jul 1, 2010.

            Flight_Instructor Posts: 4

            This is really sad, but preventable. I teach mountain flying, and this one breaks my heart because the pilot apparently broke a lot of important rules of mountain flying.

            For one, it's very difficult to carry 4 adults in this aircraft in the best of conditions without going overweight. It only has a 180hp, non-turbocharged engine. In addition, they were flying in the afternoon, when the warm air is thinnest, so the engine and wings are least efficient. In addition, the air is windier and more turbulent in the afternoon. Updrafts and downdrafts are common.

            So, with 4 on board, even with a light fuel load, its climb rate in the mountains would be very small. Perhaps 200-300 feet per minute. A small downdraft caused by 20 knots of wind flying over a ridge could literally push it to the ground.

            We try and try to teach pilots to NOT fly in the mountains with a full load, so the airplane will be able to climb better. We also teach them to fly in the early hours of the morning when the cooler air provides more wing lift and engine power. We also tell them to make sure and not fly if their airplane is incapable of keeping at least a 300 feet per minute climb rate. But some pilots think they are invincible and, in an effort to impress others, think they can break the smart rules of thumb which have been written over the last 100 years of mountain flying.

            I know this is, at this time, Monday morning quarterbacking, but when you've read hundreds of accident reports, as I have, you see patterns that allow you to make some reasonably accurate predictions.

            The fact that it was preventable doesn't make it any less sad.

          • tictac posted at 12:07 pm on Thu, Jul 1, 2010.

            tictac Posts: 1

            so sorry to hear the sad news of your people. I guess that God needed them more than us. They will now have a new chief editor and will write God's copy.
            Noted from family of one their co-workers.

          • Bronco posted at 11:26 am on Thu, Jul 1, 2010.

            Bronco Posts: 4328

            My sincere condolences to all friends and families of these young folks.

          • tedpeck posted at 7:35 am on Thu, Jul 1, 2010.

            tedpeck Posts: 1

            Bill Hoefer and I came on the Beloit Fire Dept. in 1979. We went to paramedic school together. we fought fire and saved lives together. we spent time off the job together, finding vicarious joy and pride as each other's children grew up and began their lives. As a longtime outdoor writer I had the chance to offer Erika advice and encouragement. She blossomed beyond all expectations. I can only imagine the pain that Bill and Candy feel. those who go thru combat together as military, police or fire services have the deepest of bonds in both joy and sorrow. I know it tore Bill's heart out to be 1300 miles away and absolutely powerless to take action. Firefighters are hard wired to jump in and fix things-- and we do without holding back. In our line of work its hard not to develop strong faith. The Hoefer family is deeply rooted in their Christian faith. Erika's life was far too short. But there was limited pain. No better way to go than flying over some of the most beautiful country on God's green earth and crossing quickly over to perfection beyond human comprehension! the Hoefers and all the other families are in our deepest prayers.

          • JBSTONE posted at 6:48 am on Thu, Jul 1, 2010.

            JBSTONE Posts: 4558

            How very sad.

          • mysecretreasures posted at 10:31 pm on Wed, Jun 30, 2010.

            mysecretreasures Posts: 12

            I personally knew Melissa, and had the opportunity to get to know her with the story she did for our store on abused woman. I got to see first hand how much heart she had for the community, and what she did with our story that touched so many people. My prayers for all the family's, and friends during this tragedy time. I will miss your positive energy, and loving heart .

          • 888888 posted at 10:12 pm on Wed, Jun 30, 2010.

            888888 Posts: 1

            When will it stop, Brian;s cousin Drew Swank died in the fall playing football now Brian, our prayers are with the families, remember all the wonderful times you had.

          • phenocryst posted at 9:30 pm on Wed, Jun 30, 2010.

            phenocryst Posts: 1

            Heart breaking. No other words to describe this. My heart pours out to the families and friends involved. I know the Weaver's. There isn't a more close knit family. I am so sorry for all of you who lost a loved one, family member, friend or co-worker. And for those of you in Beloit, WI...I'm sorry this happened to your beautiful Erika in our beautiful state. My condolences to you all.

          • kohana posted at 6:28 pm on Wed, Jun 30, 2010.

            kohana Posts: 2109

            My heart goes out to their families. They will be missed by their co-workers as well. A big loss for this small valley.

          • Coen posted at 5:47 pm on Wed, Jun 30, 2010.

            Coen Posts: 4

            My heart goes out to the families and friends of the victims. I was acquainted with Melissa Weaver through my place of employment. While we didn't have a personal relationship, she was always kind and respectful. I was really hoping for the best. What a tragedy...

          • BoloBrat posted at 5:32 pm on Wed, Jun 30, 2010.

            BoloBrat Posts: 23

            i have just heard that they confirmed the crash is the missing plane and there are no survivors

          • kohana posted at 5:17 pm on Wed, Jun 30, 2010.

            kohana Posts: 2109

            I hope there are survivors and they will be okay.

          • jeancalvinus posted at 4:31 pm on Wed, Jun 30, 2010.

            jeancalvinus Posts: 327

            that is a blackhawk in the photo? wow, and I thought it was a UH-1N Huey