Saturday, May 24, 2008

Chief pilot of Alpine Air Express killed in Montana crash

Alpine Air Express logoA Beech 1900C turbo-prop aircraft operated by cargo carrier Alpine Air Express crashed into a building and burned shortly after taking off from Billings Logan International Airport early today. Alpine Air's Chief Pilot, identified by the company as Kelly William Lynch, was piloting the aircraft and was lost in the crash. No one else was aboard the aircraft, and no one on the ground was injured, according to the FAA preliminary report about the accident.

The accident occurred on May 23, 2008, at about 1:25AM. The aircraft, operating as Alpine Air Flight 5008, was en route from Billings to Great Falls Montana, carrying about 5,000 pounds of U.S. Mail. A news article about the crash quoted a witness who said that the plane appeared to hit the ground in the lot of a rental business and skid into a construction materials building. FAA spokesman Mike Fergus added that the construction materials building and plane were destroyed by fire, and a nearby United Rentals building was damaged by debris. Fire officials confirmed the pilot's body was found in the wreckage.

An Alpine Air Express press release about the accident said that Capt. Kelly Lynch, a native of Belgrade, Montana, joined the company in July of 1996. He was promoted to captain in February of 2002, and became chief pilot in October of 2007.
Mr. Joe Etchart, Alpine Air’s Board of Directors Chairman, stated, “The Alpine family is heartsick with the loss of Kelly. Kelly personified the professional pilot. His work in training Alpine pilots, helping everyone maintain proficiency for the unforeseen emergency in an airplane was his trademark. He was a perfectionist and promoted that same attitude among his contemporaries. Kelly was a consummate professional.”

Etchart added, “Our prayers go out to Kelly’s family and friends. He was a magnificent man with the willingness and energy to do whatever he could do to help those around him. Kelly was a celebrity around Billings as a long-time member of a Barber Shop Quartet which often performed at events around the area. Kelly and his partners, the group 3 Dimes and a Nickel, evolved into the quartet Sound Barrier which became one of the noted Barber Shop Quartets in the Rocky Mountain West. His zest for fun, gleeful energy and his compassion for his fellow man were always evident.”
Condolences to Kelly Lynch's family and friends, and his colleagues at Alpine Air.