Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Missouri: St. Joseph Man's Love of Flying Ends in Tragedy

Submitted photo 
 Craig Combs gives his son, Justin Combs, his first radio-controlled airplane as a gift at the age of 10. Mr. Combs died in an ultralight aircraft crash in rural Buchanan County on Monday. 

A St. Joseph man’s love for flight ended tragically earlier this week as his family moves forward, honoring his passions.

“He was our risk-taker,” said Craig Combs’ daughter, Angie Losson, as she remembered her 55-year-old father who died in an ultralight aircraft crash Monday. “He was never afraid to try things he really wanted to do. No one could stop him.”

A St. Joseph native, Mr. Combs was piloting the aircraft near a private airstrip off Route JJ, about four miles south of the city limits, when a suspected gust of wind caused the landing gear to clip the top of a tree, which sent him to the ground. Mr. Combs was taken to Heartland Regional Medical Center in extremely critical condition and later died as a result of his injuries.

Known for his kind spirit, generosity and his mechanical know-how, Mr. Combs raised three daughters and one son and instilled his airplane enthusiasm into his family. His son, Justin, said he and his father shared a deep connection and friendship for radio-controlled planes.

“Dad was real particular about the way things had to be done, so when I started, it was basically just me watching him,” Justin said, adding that his father gave him his first radio-controlled plane around the age of 10. “It was good to have something that we could share a bond to. We were best friends.”

Mr. Combs, who was president of the St. Joseph Barnstormers’ Radio-Controlled Flying Club, only recently began to fly ultralight aircraft.

“The ultralight he was in when he (crashed) used to belong to me, until I sold it to him,” said Alan Beers, Mr. Combs’ friend of 23 years and fellow member of the St. Joseph Barnstormers. “He was our guy who would do anything we needed to be done. Fly anything, fix anything, or put anything together, just because he loved it all.”

Another daughter, Amy Combs, said her father would never have flown had he not inspected the plane before takeoff. He always wanted to be prepared for any situation, she said.

“He wouldn’t even let me go to school in Columbia without knowing how to change my car’s tire,” Ms. Combs joked. “He always wanted to make sure we were going to be taken care of, being safe. He was that way about everything in his life.”

Mr. Combs’ interests and generosity stretched outside the airfields.

“One of his neighbors lost their job and they weren’t going to have Christmas, so he left anonymous gift cards on their porch,” Ms. Losson said. “Or sometimes his friends wouldn’t have a washer or dryer, so he would go over and buy all the parts, just to fix it for them. He was just a good man.”

All four children agreed their father will be deeply missed.

“He died doing what he loved,” Ms. Losson said. “Although none of us were prepared for this, this is the way he would have wanted it to be — by him flying in the air.”

The family and members of the flying club plan to sponsor a scholarship fundraiser for aviation mechanics in honor of the late pilot. The event will be held Aug. 25 at the Field of Dreams, an aviation field about three miles east of St. Joseph on Missouri Highway 6 (Frederick Boulevard). Suggested donations are $1, and all funds will benefit the memorial fund.

For more information, visit http://www.stjoebarnstormers.net.

Read more and comments:    http://www.newspressnow.com

 Craig A. Combs

Craig A. Combs, 55, St. Joseph, passed away Monday, August 13, 2012, at Heartland Regional Medical Center, due to injuries sustained in an ultralight aircraft accident.

 Craig was born on March 18, 1957, in St. Joseph, to Charles L. “Chuck” and Carole Ann (Buis) Combs.

He was a 1975 graduate of Central High School, President of St. Joe Barnstormers R\C Flying Club, and member of Experimental Aircraft Association.

Craig was most recently employed at Heartland Regional Medical Center in facility maintenance and worked part-time for Tron’s Goshen Auto Repair.

Through the years, Craig has been an auto mechanics instructor at Hillyard Technical School, an ambulance mechanic, Emergency Medical Technician and mechanic at McCarty Motors, Savannah, Mo.

Craig was preceded in death by his parents.

Craig is survived by his children, Amy Combs (Galen Cloud), Angie Losson (Brett), Justin Combs (Angela) and Andrea Keith (Aaron); two brothers, Curt and Chad Combs; sister, Cara Bergman; five grandchildren, Camden, Olivia, Drake, Nathan and Zoey and fiancé, Frances White.

Services: 2 p.m. Saturday, at Heaton-Bowman-Smith & Sidenfaden Chapel.

Interment: Memorial Park Cemetery.

Visitation will begin after 9 a.m. Friday, at the Chapel, where the family will receive friends 6 to 8 p.m. Friday evening.

Craig had a lifelong love for aviation, and recently achieved his dream of being a pilot.

Because of this love for flying, memorial contributions are suggested to the funeral home for creation of the Craig A. Combs Scholarship for aviation mechanics.

Read more and comments:   http://www.newspressnow.com/obituaries

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A 55-year-old St. Joseph man injured in a plane crash has died. Craig Combs was critically injured when his ultralight plane went down off highway JJ Monday night.

The airplane enthusiast shared his love for flying with KQ2 during an interview in 2009.
"[The radio-controlled planes] are just made from whatever junk we can find laying around," Combs said.

At the time, he was practicing with radio-controlled planes he built for the St. Joseph Barnstormers Flying Club.

Just a few months ago, Combs took his hobby to new heights by getting behind the lever of an ultralight aircraft.

His love for flying turned tragic Monday night. He crashed his aircraft near a private airfield off Highway JJ south of St. Joseph.

"It's just something that goes along with the territory of these smaller airplanes," Sgt. Sheldon Lyon, Missouri State Highway Patrol said.

Sgt. Lyon said the ultralight trimmed the top of a tree before it crashed.

The property owner says Combs was likely attempting to land at about 25 mph.

Shortly after the crash, investigators were still trying to pinpoint how it happened.

"Maybe a gust of wind, we're not really sure at this point. His plane clipped the tree, and crashed to the ground. The tree is probably 40 or 50 ft. in the air," Jeremy Keener, Buchanan County Sheriff's Dept. said.

Combs was rushed to Heartland by helicopter, but he did not survive.

The 55-year-old was not a licensed pilot, but the FAA does not require aircraft operators to be licensed if they're flying planes that weigh less than 254 pounds.

He was flying alongside two others in similar aircraft when the crash happened.

The property owner said he's never seen an accident like this in his 35 years with the airfield.

A member of the Barnstormers said Combs was the president of the St. Joseph club, and that he spent many weekends flying radio-controlled planes on the "Field of Dreams" east of town.

Combs' funeral is set for Saturday at Heaton Bowman Smith and Sidenfaden Chapel. Family will receive friends Friday evening from 6-8.

Combs will be buried at Memorial Park Cemetery.

Watch Video:    http://stjoechannel.com/fulltext?nxd_id=291572

 (ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A St.Joseph man injured in a plane crash Monday night has died. 

 Authorities say the pilot, Craig Combs, 55, was critically injured when his ultralight plane went down near a runway off Highway JJ south of St. Joseph.

The Missouri Highway Patrol said the plane clipped a tree before it crashed.

Combs was rushed to Heartland by helicopter, but did not survive.

According to a report from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Combs was the only person on board when the plane crashed.

Combs was the president of the St. Joseph Barnstormers R/C Flying Club. Combs had been flying ultra-light aircraft for about two months.

The owner of the airfield near where the crash happened said Combs loved flying and had taken lessons from registered pilots before he started flying ultralights.

An FAA spokeswoman said investigators will determine if the aircraft weighs enough for a full investigation by the FAA. If not, she said local authorities will conduct the investigation.


Bob Heater | Fox 26 KNPN 
 First responders load the victim of an ultralight aircraft crash into a LifeNet air ambulance Monday. The crash occurred shortly before 8 p.m. near a private landing strip off State Route JJ.

 One person was critically hurt after a small plane crashed in Buchanan County.

The ultra light plane went down near a private landing strip off JJ Highway near Dekalb Monday night.

Investigators say the man was flying with several other planes.

The accident happened when he was approaching the landing strip.

The man was the only one in the plane.

He was life flighted to the hospital in critical condition.

Authorities say the man had only been flying for a couple of months.

The name of the victim has not been released.

The Highway Patrol is investigating the cause of the crash.


  Regis#: UNREG        Make/Model: ULTR      Description: UNREGISTERED ULTRALIGHT
  Date: 08/14/2012     Time: 0142

  Event Type: Incident   Highest Injury: None     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Unknown

  City: SAINT JOSEPH   State: MO   Country: US


INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   1
                 # Pass:   0     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    

  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER

  FAA FSDO: KANSAS CITY, MO  (CE05)               Entry date: 08/14/2012 

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