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For the week of December 6 through 12, 2000

Local pilot dies in plane crash

The Associated Press and
Mountain Express Staff

A Ketchum pilot died Thursday in a single-engine airplane crash near Taos Ski Valley, N.M.

Local backcountry pilot David E. Chism, 49, and Gilbert P. Quintana, 44, of Taos crashed into a mountainside minutes after the plane Chism piloted took off from Taos Municipal Airport. Both were killed.

The airplane took off about 9:15 a.m. after Chism filed a flight plan stating the two intended to fly to Durango, Colo., and return to Taos that same day, police said.

Joseph Quintana, Gilbert Quintana’s younger brother, said his brother and Chism had been traveling to Durango to inspect a construction project.

State Police Lt. Gary Smith said several ski instructors saw the airplane attempting to fly over a hill.

"But it appeared as though it was losing lift, and obviously was going to be unsuccessful in clearing the hill, at which time the pilot made a steep left turn and attempted to fly back down the valley," Smith said.

Smith said the plane then disappeared into a mountainside on the south side of the ski area.

Jim Lee, ski patrol director at the ski valley, said he and others on the patrol skied over to the wreckage, but Quintana and Chism were dead.

The airplane wreckage was spread over a radius of about 100 feet in rugged terrain, Lee said.

The cause of the crash was undetermined Thursday.

Ketchum area resident Lynne Stone, Chism’s friend and companion for the last four months of his life, said Chism was an experienced pilot who also worked as a builder.

Chism flew for the Boulder-White Cloud Council and Idaho Watersheds Project, two local conservation groups.

Though he moved to Taos in early November to oversee a construction project, he was planning to return to Stanley in the spring to spend the summer flying in Idaho’s backcountry.


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