For the week of July 15 thru July 21, 1998  

Plane crashes in Woodside

Two local men on board injured

Express Staff Writer

ju15pc3.gif (10257 bytes)John Palmer, inset, looks over the damage to his 1994 GMC pickup truck, above, incurred when this Cessna crash-landed in his front yard Sundays. No one on the ground was injured, but two men onboard the plane remain in the hospital. (Express photo by Willy Cook)

A small, single-engine aircraft leaving Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey Sunday afternoon, crashed in the adjacent Woodside subdivision after plowing through a tree, skimming across a roof and landing nose-first on a pickup truck.

No one on the ground was hurt.

The two men on board, John D. Luque, 51 of Portland, Ore., and his brother Brett Luque, 38, of Boise were injured in the crash and taken to Wood River Medical Center for treatment.

The two fliers were listed in stable condition on Tuesday with unspecified injuries, according to Wood River Medical Center spokeswoman Hilary Furlong.

According to Friedman Memorial Airport manager Rick Baird, the Luques, bound for Stanley, took off toward the south and had turned east shortly before crashing onto Baldy View Drive around 12:45 p.m.

Weather conditions were clear and hot with a moderate crosswind, Baird said.

How the plane ended up in a Woodside driveway is a mystery to Baird.

"I can’t see a reason. This one is mind-boggling," Baird said.

The Federal Aviation Administration did an initial accident inspection and an investigation will be taken up by the National Transportation Safety Board, according to the FAA office in Seattle.

Although no one on the ground was harmed, the Cessna 170B came within feet of Rase Littlefield, 16, who was washing the family car when the plane fell out of the sky.

"I thought it was a large plane. I thought it was one of those jetliners, so I took off running," Littlefield said.

He ran into his garage as the plane crashed into the earth behind him. Luckily, the plane did not explode or burn.

"Oh, man my heart was pounding," Littlefield said. "I didn’t want to have it explode."

Littlefield lives across the street from John Palmer, who was in the back room of his house getting ready to go fishing.

He and his wife, Jean, heard the Cessna as it plowed through a dead cottonwood tree behind their house, slid across their roof and crashed into their 1994 GMC pickup truck, narrowly missing his 1970 Ford F250 pickup.

"I wished they’d hit that," Palmer said of his older truck.

Neither Littlefield nor Palmer said they heard other planes in the air at the time, but the airport has been busier than normal lately with the comings and goings of private jets carrying participants attending the Allen & Co. retreat in Sun Valley.

Last Tuesday, July 7, corporate jets began arriving with guests of the annual Sun Valley convention for the corporate media elite, hosted by Allen & Co.

Airport manager Baird, however, denied any connection between a high volume of corporate jet traffic from the Allen & Co. convention and the incident on Sunday.

"There is no correlation between the large contingent of corporate jets utilizing the airfield and the crash," Baird said.

By the time of the accident, Baird said most of the corporate jets, which numbered 50 at one point, had already departed Hailey.

‘Their exodus from the valley was all but complete by 11 (a.m.)," Baird said.


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