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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of March 19 - 25, 2003


Private jet crash
claims 3 lives

Sun Valley couple,
Flying J founder killed Saturday

Express Staff Writer

Looking forward to comfortable retirement years as grandparents able to savor a more relaxed pace, Richard and Ilene Germer, both 56, headed for their new Sun Valley "dream home" Saturday from Salt Lake City, born on the wings of a private twin-engine jet piloted by Germer’s close friend and former employer, Jay Call.

Behind Germer were dark days of battling cancer, which apparently he’d licked after the surgery in Utah. Ahead were the joys of entertaining friends and relishing the Idaho outdoors.

Richard and Ilene Germer

But something catastrophic occurred to Cessna Citation jet N70FJ only 15 minutes from a scheduled 2:30 Saturday afternoon touchdown at Hailey’s Friedman Memorial Airport.

The jet with its lone pilot and two passengers suddenly plunged from 16,500 feet to 9,000 feet in one minute before vanishing from radar, according to a report from controllers at Mountain Home Air Force Base given to Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling.

The sharp, rapid descent of some 7,000 feet per minute was far faster than recommended.

It would be 20 hours later--8 o’clock Sunday morning--before an aerial search discovered why the jet had disappeared: shattered wreckage was found scattered at a snow-covered crash site between Carey and the Hailey airport, about a mile east of Little Wood Reservoir. All abroad were killed.

In addition to accident investigators rushed to the scene by the National Transportation Safety Board, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality sent a two-man team with anti-pollution devices to prevent jet fuel from seeping into the reservoir.

Muddy roads in to the jet crash site hampered progress of an Idaho Department of Environmental Quality team with anti-pollution devices intended to prevent jet fuel from seeping into the Little Wood Reservoir. Express photo by Willy Cook

Sheriff Femling, who was at the crash site off and on for several days, said it appeared the jet slammed into a draw on the backside of a small mountain then shattered into pieces as it continued up a small ridge.

The pilot, Osborne Jay Call, 62, of Brigham City, Utah, was founder of the popular nationwide Flying J chain of roadside service plazas familiar to millions of motorists and professional truck drivers in 42 states. Fly J also is the largest retailer of diesel fuel in the United States.

Before retiring late last year, Germer had been president of Flying J’s subsidiary, Big West Oil, a flourishing oil company with numerous wells and a 25,000-barrel-a-day refinery in North Salt Lake City.

Ilene Germer for a number of years was director of the Brigham City Pregnancy Care Center.

The Germers would’ve celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary on April 13.

Call was an experienced pilot of some 40 years with a number of ratings, according to records supplied to the Mountain Express by the Federal Aviation Administration. With an Airline Transport Pilot rating and commercial license, Call was qualified to pilot single engine land and sea planes as well as helicopters, and had a type rating as pilot-in-command of the twinjet Cessna Citation 501.

The earliest of Cessna’s jet line first flown more than 30 years ago, the Citation 501 was certified for operation with a single pilot. It’s known for easy handling and a slow touchdown speed under 100 miles per hour, although it can cruise at more than 400 miles per hour.

Although NTSB investigators will require months before rendering a verdict on the cause of the crash, one obvious area of special concern will be bad weather, including heavy rain and snow, known to be in the area at the time.

The Germer’s daughter-in-law, Jennifer, said of the couple in a tribute, "They couldn’t get enough skiing, bike rides to Grumpy’s and dinners" in the Wood River Valley’s many restaurants."

Memorial Services for the Germers will be held Friday, March 21, at 11 a.m. in Ogden at Washington Heights Baptist Church.

There will be a Celebration of Life for Buzz and Ilene Germer on Saturday, March 22, from 5:30 p.m.-8 p.m. at the Ogden Marriott.

The family suggests memorial contributions to Hunstman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, or the Pregnancy Care Center in Brigham City, Utah.

They are survived by daughters Kimberly and Kati of Sun Valley, their son, Kyle, and daughter-in-law, Jennifer, and granddaughter, Hadley, of Salt Lake City.

Flying J’s president, Phil Adams, said Call was "a unique type of individual and easy to work with." Call was always on the move with new projects, Adams said from F lying J’s Ogden headquarters.

Call, who named the company Flying J after his love of flying, leaves behind his wife, Tami, a son and a daughter.

(An obituary for Richard and Ilene Germer appears on Page A24 of the March 19th printed edition of the Idaho Mountain Express.)


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.