Sunday, August 08, 2021

‘Lives are at risk’: Issues continue with pilot at Ontario Municipal Airport (KONO), who refused to tie down his aircraft next to the Bureau of Land Management SEAT base during high winds Wednesday

On Wednesday evening as a storm moves in with high winds, Vale District Bureau of Land Management’s SEAT base operators discuss with the Tom Frazier, left, of the fixed-base operator about trying to get Clyde Esplin to move his plane as it started to move around in the wind. 

ONTARIO, Oregon — Another incident on Wednesday evening with a pilot who has been suspended from the Ontario Municipal Airport — but who is still able to fly there — spurred an airport committee member into seeking a letter from the city’s attorney stating that they are “free from legal ramifications” regarding repeated issues. A reply has not been received yet to Airport Manager Erik Hartley’s email mentioning that request to Attorney Larry Sullivan and City Manager Adam Brown on Thursday afternoon.

“Essentially, they are concerned that if there was an accident involving Clyde [Esplin], someone affected would sue the city, board, mgmt. etc. because he (Clyde) has been a known issue, as related to Safety,” reads the email. “This is becoming a rather big deal. I want to ensure our community is protected.”

A “near miss” incident on a runway on July 19 already has been sent to the FAA for investigation and, according to Sullivan, due process has to play out before a final ban can happen for Esplin.

There are many people voicing concerns with this, including Hartley himself, who provided a risk matrix for what happened on Wednesday — regarding Esplin’s ag aircraft not being tied down during a windstorm. The matrix states that the incident was ‘high risk’ based on the severity as ‘critical,’ and that the likelihood that it will happen again is ‘frequent,’ as it relates to aircraft being untied in a windstorm.

On Wednesday, Esplin’s aircraft was parked near the Vale District’s Bureau of Land Management’s SEAT base, where it deploys single-engine aircraft tankers and other aircraft in order to fight wildfires. Winds were sustained at about 30 mph that evening, according to historical weather data, and thunderstorms in the were also accompanied by a microburst that blew trees down throughout the area.

It was at about 6 p.m. that management from Frazier Aviation, the airports fixed-base operator, called Hartley to alert him that BLM SEAT Base Manager Brian Rindlisbacher and SEAT operators were attempting to talk to Esplin about moving his aircraft from where it was parked. Rindlisbacher told Hartley in an email on Thursday morning that the BLM paid for tie-downs in those parking areas through its lease. This essentially gives the agency first right of refusal to access to them, Hartley explained.

But the conversation between the BLM and Esplin on Wednesday “was apparently becoming difficult and the FBO notified me to monitor,” Hartley said.

As the storm intensified at about 7:46 p.m. Esplin’s aircraft, which was not tied down, began turning around and was “getting close to hitting a BLM SEAT aircraft.” Hartley tried to call Esplin “to no avail,” so sent him a text message stating that his new aircraft was in danger.

Shortly afterward, Esplin arrived at the airport, and it is noteworthy, Hartley says, that “at no time” did Esplin tie down his aircraft. Instead, he refused to speak with any airport management or BLM SEAT operators on site. Instead, he proceeded to move his jet out of his hangar next to his ag aircraft near the SEAT base. Hartley noted that Esplin is paying for a hangar but chose to move his aircraft outside. He said while it wasn’t a detriment to the operation at the airports, it is “telling of the stance” Esplin has taken.

“I let him know that between not tying down his aircraft, and nearly killing two people, in such a short span of time is very concerning. A video of the interaction was taken, and I’ve forward this on to the FAA, as they continue their investigation into Mr. Esplin,” Hartley said.

Furthermore, the event could have ultimately hampered firefighting efforts. According to Hartley, it could “reduce ability of crews to operate due to damage or increased workload. In summary, negligent situational awareness could have led to aircraft damage, negatively impacting the BLM’s ability to adequate combat wildfires.”

Hartley said while ag operations are vital to the community and the airport wants to work with them, an equal priority is safety.

“People’s lives are at risk,” he said. “It’s not just a squabble, it’s about operational safety.”

This is not the first time that Hartley has had to speak with Esplin regarding safety, and previous airport management staff and city council members have dealt with it, too.

According to former City Councilor Norm Crume, who also served on the airport committee for the 12 years he served, said that issues with Esplin stretch back to his time on the council. At times, parents of students in Treasure Valley Community College’s aviation program would complain to the council about Esplin’s flying pattern and how he wasn’t doing courtesy procedures, such as using radios to communicate with the airport and other pilots. However, he said that Sullivan always had the stance of not being able to remove Esplin.

Hartley is also familiar with several situations with student pilots, saying that Esplin has “cut off multiple TVCC students, while they are on their final go ahead.” The manager explained that the final go ahead can be called by any pilot for their final 3 miles of landing. Several times, Esplin has reportedly flew his aircraft right toward a student with his plane while they were on that incoming stretch.

“He takes off from whichever runway he wants to, and it doesn’t matter if a student pilot has called for that final 3 miles,” Hartley said.

He likened this to a student driver learning to drive on the freeway and getting cut off by a semi driver.

Hartley said he has apologized to TVCC flight instructor Brianna Paddon, who is “the biggest rockstar at the airport,” on behalf of the community airport.

Requests for comment from TVCC regarding student safety, and Rindlisbacher over safety concerns at the BLM SEAT base were not returned by press time.

While the FAA is investigating the issue, Crume says the federal agency doesn’t actually govern the Ontario airport and that they only make suggestions. That said, Crume says he didn’t understand when he was on the council, and he still doesn’t understand why the city can’t actually kick Esplin off the property.

“We know he’s a hazard and yet we can’t do anything. I would think we have the ability where we own it to take a certain person off that’s creating problems,” Crume said. “I don’t understand that the city, as owners, can’t demand that he doesn’t step foot on there.”

Hartley said the FAA doesn’t really get involved, and that management has already sought to ban him. While he doesn’t want the move to come across as not being ag friendly, the airport manager said, “We just had enough of all the safety events.”

“I am not trying to take someone’s livelihood away. I’m not trying to take ag away,” Hartley said. “I am trying to grow the entire pie so everyone gets a slice and the airport grows.”

However, Hartley says in aviation, the goal is to be predictive and proactive.

“I don’t want our airport to be reactive,” he said. “God forbid Clyde hits or kills somebody and then we have to answer to the feds and the [National Safety Transportation Board].”

Saying he was at a loss at what to do right now, he wants the community to know that airport management aims to be good stewards and to foster an airport that will benefit the city in money, reputation, fun, as a worksite and more.

“I just want the community to know, we are working diligently to keep them and the airport safe.”

Loss of Control in Flight: Piper PA-32-260 Cherokee Six C, N4817S; accident occurred August 10, 2020 at Montauk Airport (KMTP), Suffolk County, New York

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Farmingdale, New York 

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

 Location: Montauk, New York
Accident Number: ERA20CA282
Date & Time: August 10, 2020, 13:00 Local
Registration: N4817S
Aircraft: Piper PA32 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 3 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal


The pilot was attempting to land the airplane on the 75-ft-wide runway at the destination airport. He reported that during landing, the airplane bounced, and a gust of wind blew the airplane to the left side of the runway. He further stated he was having problems getting the airplane to settle back down on the runway and was afraid to advance the throttle due to being blown off the runway. The airplane subsequently struck trees off the side of the runway and both wings were substantially damaged. The pilot reported that there were no mechanical malfunctions or failures of the airplane that would have precluded normal operation. The weather conditions reported at the airport about the time of the landing included a wind from 27 degrees left of the runway heading at a velocity of 6 knots, or a left crosswind component of 3 knots.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's improper recovery from a bounced landing and failure to maintain directional control, which resulted in a runway excursion and collision with trees.


Personnel issues Aircraft control - Pilot
Aircraft Landing flare - Not attained/maintained
Aircraft Directional control - Not attained/maintained

Factual Information

History of Flight

Landing-flare/touchdown Loss of control in flight (Defining event)
Landing Runway excursion

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 59,Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None 
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): None 
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without waivers/limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: July 13, 2020
Occupational Pilot: No 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: July 31, 2019
Flight Time: 192 hours (Total, all aircraft), 62 hours (Total, this make and model), 16.7 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 8 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper 
Registration: N4817S
Model/Series: PA32 260 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1969 
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 32-1277
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle 
Seats: 6
Date/Type of Last Inspection: July 30, 2020 Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3400 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 8 Hrs 
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 11077.1 Hrs as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed, not activated 
Engine Model/Series: O-540-E4B5
Registered Owner: 
Rated Power: 260 Horsepower
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC)
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KMTP,7 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 12:54 Local
Direction from Accident Site: 197°
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Lowest Ceiling: 
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 6 knots / 
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:  /
Wind Direction: 200°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:  /
Altimeter Setting: 30.02 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C / 23°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: White Plains, NY (HPN)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Montauk, NY (MTP) 
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 11:30 Local 
Type of Airspace:

Airport Information

Airport: Montauk MTP
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 6 ft msl
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 24 
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 3246 ft / 75 ft 
VFR Approach/Landing: Traffic pattern

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 None
Latitude, Longitude: 41.075553,-71.921943

Cirrus SR22, N678EC: Accident occurred August 11, 2020 in Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, Indiana

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. Additional Participating Entity: 

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Chicago, Illinois 

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Cavu Holdings LLC

Location: Lafayette, IN
Accident Number: CEN20CA335
Date & Time: August 11, 2020, 17:20 Local
Registration: N678EC
Aircraft: Cirrus SR22
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor, 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cirrus 
Registration: N678EC
Model/Series: SR22 Undesignated
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation:
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site: 
Temperature/Dew Point:
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: 
Altimeter Setting:
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: Sellersburg, IN (JVY)
Destination: Chicago/Prospect Heights/Wheeling, IL(PWK)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor 
Aircraft Damage: None
Passenger Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor, 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 40.411666,-87.257225

City buys land adjacent to Lebanon Municipal Airport (M54)

Lebanon, Tennessee - While the airport does not have any immediate plans for expansion, the Lebanon City Council agreed unanimously to purchase an abutting parcel of land on Tuckers Gap Road Tuesday at City Hall.

Lebanon Public Works Commissioner Jeff Baines said Thursday during an Airport Commission meeting that it was really a matter of striking while the iron was hot and acquiring the land from a motivated seller. The city had its eye on the property at 506 Tuckers Gap Road after Direct Flight Solutions Chief Operating Officer Heather Bay noticed it was for sale last month.

The city moved quickly and negotiated a deal for the land to be bought for $318,000, which will come out of the general fund.

According to Baines, the property has a dwelling that will be rented until the city decides how to utilize the property for the airport. The property sits to the northwest side of the runway.

Baines said that the property appraised for $305,000 but that given market trends, the city didn't feel paying an extra $13,000 was excessive. The final deal was also negotiated down according to Baines, as the sellers were asking for $330,000.

During the commission meeting, Baines said the city hopes to officially close on the property in the next two weeks.

Commission revises recommendations for hangar rate increases

Last month, the commission sent a recommendation to the city council to increase the rates for hangars in the Row A and B sections of the airport. The recommendation would increase rental rates by 10% over each of the next two years.

The council decided that increase was not sufficient and struck it down. During the meeting Thursday, the commission discussed what a 25% increase would look like, if implemented with a subsequent 15% increase the following year.

These increases are intended to get Lebanon's airport rates in line with comparable market values in the surrounding areas. Lebanon Airport Commission Chairman Ralph Mallicoat said that these numbers were "just an example," before adding that "most of the other airports around us that are similar size are going up."

Bay said during the meeting that a 15% increase each year would be just enough to keep up with maintenance costs and inflation.

Commissioner T.O. Cragwall said that he had heard an inference was made by city officials suggesting that anyone who could afford a plane, could afford these increases, something to which he took offense. To explain his position, he cited an old saying, "If you teach your kid to fly, you'll never have to worry about them having enough money to buy drugs."

All humor aside, the commission was determined to reach a compromise that wouldn't alienate long-standing relationships with lease-holders.

To that point, Mallicoat said they didn't want to go up too much. "How would you like to be renting, and then be up for renewal and your landlord come to you and say rent is now doubled?"

The chairman said, "We need to do this in a way that is good for everybody."

Commissioner Paul Stumb suggested a 15% increase each year that seemed to go over better with other members although it wasn't unanimously agreed upon. Baines, City Councilor Joey Carmack and Commissioner Deborah Baugh all voted against it.

Baines said that the 15% simply wasn't high enough for him to recommend, especially after the city council just footed the entire bill for the parcel purchase near the airport.

The three dissenting votes were overruled by the majority so the 15% increase recommendation will go back before the council later this month.

Cessna 180J, N180S: Accident occurred August 07, 2021 in Ketchikan, Alaska

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Juneau, Alaska 

Aircraft sank on Humpback Lake. 

Date: 07-AUG-21
Time: 23:42:00Z
Regis#: N180S
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 180J
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91

Two people escaped serious injury Saturday afternoon after their floatplane crashed during takeoff in the Misty Fjords National Monument, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The crash site — about 40 miles southeast of Ketchikan — is in the same vicinity as Thursday’s fatal sightseeing crash that claimed six lives.

The Cessna 180 that crashed on Saturday near a public recreational cabin at Humpback Lake was privately owned and not part of a charter tour, Coast Guard Petty Officer Melissa McKenzie said. A distress call via satellite phone was received at 2:45 p.m. shortly after the crash, she said, adding that the party was well-prepared for an emergency.

“They actually had a personal locator beacon that they were able to set off that basically led our responders to their exact location,” McKenzie told KRBD on Saturday evening . “And they also had a dry bag that had clothes and food that they took with them to the shore when they swam from the plane.”

A MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Sitka arrived at the the U.S. Forest Service cabin. A rescuer was lowered and hoisted the apparently uninjured people up. They were transferred to emergency personnel waiting in Ketchikan, she said.

It’s unclear what went wrong on takeoff. Weather conditions on scene were about 65 degrees with light winds. Visibility was about 10 miles with cloud ceilings at 5,000 feet.

“This case highlights the importance of having safety equipment that is accessible and in working order,” said Lt. Maren Balke, search and rescue mission coordinator at the Sector Juneau command center. “The pilot was able to call for help using a satellite phone shortly after the crash, and they also activated a personal locator beacon, which allowed our air crew to quickly respond to their exact location.” 

In Memoriam: Robert B. Joyce

Robert B. Joyce
December 05, 1934 - August 04, 2021 

Robert B. Joyce of Fort Wayne, Indiana, passed away August 4, 2021.

Born December 5, 1934 in Quincy, Massachusetts, he was the son of the late Harry J. and Ruth B. Joyce.  He graduated from Thayer Academy in Braintree, MA and Boston University. 

Robert served from 1952 through 1961 in the Air and Army National Guard.  He worked as an aircraft mechanic, corporate pilot and FAA air traffic controller at the Chicago O’Hare tower and Fort Wayne tower, from which he retired.

Bob enjoyed traveling, sailing, snow skiing and flying and maintaining his own ex-military airplanes. 

He was a member of “QB” (Quiet Birdmen). The American Legion and former member of the Airforce Association.

Surviving are his son Kenneth (Beverly) Joyce of Brownsburg, IN, his brother Donald Joyce of Pembroke, MA., grandchildren Nicole (Danno) Wilkerson, Snohomish, WA and Dylan Schultz of Carmel, IN, numerous nieces and nephews.  Bob was preceded in death by his wife of 41 years, Cynthia A. Joyce and two sisters Janice Joyce DalPra and Carol Joyce.

At Roberts request there will be no public memorial service.  Friends and well-wishers are encouraged to make contributions to an organization of their choice in Robert’s honor. 

Mooney M20M / 257 TLS Bravo, N9156Z: Fatal accident occurred August 07, 2021 in Victoria, Carver County, Minnesota

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Minneapolis, Minnesota
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania 
Mooney International Corp.; Kerrville, Texas

Location: Victoria, MN 
Accident Number: CEN21FA360
Date & Time: August 7, 2021, 17:40 Local
Registration: N9156Z
Aircraft: Mooney M20M
Injuries: 3 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On August 7, 2021, about 1740 central daylight time, a Mooney M20M, N9156Z, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Victoria, Minnesota. The private pilot and two passengers sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

A review of preliminary air traffic control information revealed the airplane departed Chandler Field Airport (AXN), Alexandra, Minnesota, at 1654 on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan and climbed to 5,000 ft mean sea level (msl) enroute to Flying Cloud Airport (FCM), Minneapolis, Minnesota. After a descent to 3,000 ft msl, the pilot was cleared to fly the instrument landing system (ILS) approach to Runway 10R at FCM.

About 9.5-miles from the runway while on final approach, the airplane tracked left of the ILS course and descended below 2,700 ft msl. The airplane then transitioned to a right turn and descended below 2,500 ft msl, which triggered a low altitude alert to the FCM tower controller. The controller transmitted a safety alert, which the pilot acknowledged. The airplane subsequently made an abrupt left turn and entered a rapid descent, during which radar contact and communications were lost. A distress call was not transmitted.

Several witnesses heard loud popping noises and observed the airplane in a rapid descent with both wings “folded up”. Review of security video near the accident site revealed the airplane was upright at ground impact, with both wings deflected up toward a vertical position.

The airplane impacted the ground on a northerly heading and a post impact fire ensued. Both wings were found separated from the fuselage, with the left- and right-wing main and rear spars fractured near the wing rib outboard of their respective main landing gear.

The left horizontal stabilizer and left elevator were found about 720 and 800 ft southwest of the accident site, respectively. The remainder of the airplane’s flight control surfaces were accounted for at the accident site. A 6-inch section of the main wing spar upper cap splice was found about 300 ft southwest of the accident site.

Initial examination revealed the left horizontal stabilizer separated about 6 inches outboard of the vertical stabilizer. The three outboard hinge blocks of the left elevator remained attached to the left horizontal stabilizer, with the rivets pulled out and sheared off the elevator. The main and rear wings spars were highly fragmented in the center of the airplane between the separated left and right wings. An 18-inch section of the main wing lower spar cap, located at the center of the main wing spar, was fractured at both ends.

The propeller was separated from the crankshaft due to impact damage. Two propeller blades were bent aft, one blade was curled forward, and all three blades exhibited chordwise and leading-edge scaring. The engine crankshaft was rotated, with normal thumb compression obtained at all cylinders. The airplane was retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Mooney
Registration: N9156Z
Model/Series: M20M
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: IMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KFCM,907 ft msl 
Observation Time: 16:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 22°C /20°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots / , 80°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 1100 ft AGL
Visibility: 9 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.77 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: Alexandria, MN (AXN) 
Destination: Minneapolis, MN (FCM)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 44.859074,-93.663331 

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290.

Dr. James A. Edney
December 16, 1948 - August 7, 2021

Dr. James Edney, an Omaha surgeon who was recognized as a top breast cancer specialist in the region, died on August 7 in a tragic plane accident in Victoria, Minnesota. He was 72.

Dr. Edney served as a surgeon starting in 1975, at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Early in his career, he completed a one-year fellowship at the University of Colorado. He treated thousands of cancer patients from Omaha and around the country. He was dedicated to finding new and innovative surgical treatments for breast cancer that were less invasive and made the disease more survivable. He was recognized for academic contributions to surgical oncology, and was known for his compassionate patient care.

He was a native of Omaha, and the oldest of five. Jim and his siblings grew up in Holy Name parish and went to grade school there. He graduated from Creighton Preparatory School, a Catholic high school in Omaha, in 1967. He attended Creighton University, where he joined the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.

In 1972, he married Patricia McNamara, with whom he had three children. Michael Edney is a lawyer in Washington, DC, and lives in McLean, Virginia, with his wife Andrea and daughter. Christine Johnson is a realtor and lives in Olathe, Kansas, with her husband Collin and three children. Daniel Edney is a health care professional and lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota with his wife Tiffany and their two children.

In 1992, he married his beloved wife, Deborah, who brought her three children to their lives: Jacob, Joy and Jordan. Joy Mertes-Smith lives in Omaha with her partner Dan Leland and two daughters. Jordan Mertes is a geophysicist who lives in Swansea, Wales. Jim was a devoted father and active grandfather.

From his earliest years, he spent wonderful summer days on Lake Miltona in Minnesota. He and his siblings would fish and swim, surrounded by brothers, sisters, mother, grandparents, aunts, uncles and countless cousins. As an adult, Jim and his wife Debbie began to spend their summers on the same lake and would welcome family and friends once the ice went out. Waterskiing, bonfires, fresh corn on the cob and sunset cruises punctuated the days.

Jim had a sharp, often acerbic, wit and largely impolitic sense of humor. You could locate his table at any restaurant by following the bursts of laughter. He read several books a week, and had a voracious curiosity about the people that he met and their stories.

At UNMC, he was Professor of Surgery, Chief of Surgical Oncology, and led the residency program and the training of scores of surgeons now spread throughout the country. Dr. Edney was elected president of the Southwest Surgical Congress in recognition of his academic contributions to surgical oncology, and also served as the president of the Western Trauma Association. He was a member of the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons. His numerous awards include a Golden Apple Teaching Award from UNMC surgery resident physicians.

He is preceded in death by his younger brother, Joseph Edney and their parents, Mary Jane Edney and John Edney. His stepson Jacob Mertes and Jacob's wife Sara Mertes tragically died in the same accident that took the life of Dr. Edney. Jim is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren, brother Dr. John (Pat) Edney, sisters Mary Lynn (Greg) Schwietz and Dr. Joanne (David) Edney-Coray, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be Tuesday, Aug. 17 beginning at 5 p.m. at St. Cecilia’s Cathedral in Omaha, with a Wake Service at 7 p.m.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be Wednesday, Aug. 18th at St. Cecilia’s Cathedral at 11:15 a.m.

A Memorial Service will be held at St. Nicholas Catholic Church of Belle River, Minnesota, on Friday, Aug. 20 at 3 p.m., followed by burial in the church’s cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family invites donations to the James Edney Scholarship Fund at Creighton Prep.

Jacob Theodore Mertes
November 2, 1978 ~ August 7, 2021 (age 42)

Jacob Theodore Mertes passed away August 7, at the age of 42.

Jake, as he was known to family and friends, was born November 2, 1978, at Grand Forks Air Force Base, where his father was an Air Force pilot and his mother a nurse at the base hospital. He spent the majority of his life in the Midwest, living in Nebraska, North Dakota and Minnesota.

During his youth it was clearly evident that Jake was too smart for his own good and frequently outwitted both parents and his teachers. As a child, he often was found outside catching frogs, toads, snakes and turtles. He developed an early passion for herpetology, folk music, literature and poetry. By the age of 13 he could recite Shakespeare and Poe by heart.

He attended Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, Neb. After leaving Prep, Jake set out on his own to explore the U.S., inspired by writers such as John Steinbeck and Jack Kerouac. Upon returning to Omaha, Jake served two years in the U.S. Navy. In 2008, he began studying biology at Valley City State University in North Dakota. He was a leader inside the classroom and out. He was respected by his professors and was considered a mentor by many classmates. He graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and a minor in earth and environmental sciences.

Following his father’s death in 2013, Jake decided to move, but the question was where. He threw a dart at a map. It landed on Montana. He loaded his dog Major into the car and began to drive west. One evening he stopped to camp in the Cabinet Mountains just outside Libby. The following morning, he was so enamored with the beauty of the area that he made the decision to begin a new life there.

While in Libby, Jake worked as an emergency medical technician for the local volunteer ambulance service; he was a much-loved substitute schoolteacher; and ultimately he began working for the Lincoln County government as an environmental health and planning specialist, a job he held until his death. The community benefited from his commitment to service and professionalism.

In 2016-17 Jake met Sara Huddleston, a family medicine practitioner and medical director at Cabinet Peaks Medical Center. They fell in love and were married in 2018 in Ireland, with a small group of friends and family in attendance. While visiting, they experienced the country to its fullest: rock climbing, getting stuck in peat bogs and stopping in pubs. They ultimately summited the highest mountain in Donegal, Mt. Errigal.

Jake loved the outdoors and traveling. Almost every weekend, he and Sara backpacked, swam, hiked, biked, climbed, snowshoed or skied, and generally explored the world together. They went on more adventures in their short time together than most people do in a lifetime.

He was a connoisseur of laughter, fine cigars and whisky. Many would describe Jake as a grown-up child. He adored kids and taught many children to appreciate the outdoors. He also loved sharing his passion and knowledge for herpetology with those around him, but with no one more than his niece, Lucy, a 9-year-old herpetologist prodigy.

Like many in his family he had a desire to fly. He recently completed two cross-country solos, among the final steps needed to obtain his pilot’s license.

He was preceded in death by his father, Roger Joseph Mertes; grandfather, Theodore Mertes; and uncle John Mertes. Jacob’s beloved wife Sara and stepfather Dr. James Edney tragically died in the same plane accident.

He is survived by his mother, Deborah L. Bilodeau Edney; sisters, Joy Mertes-Smith (Dan Leland) and Molly; brother, Jordan; stepsiblings, Michael (Andrea) Edney, Christine (Collin) Johnson and Daniel (Tiffany) Edney; grandmother, Esther Mertes; and many nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins in the Mertes, Priebe, Edney and Schwietz families.

Jake will be missed for his wry sense of humor, his endless pranks, his great laugh, and his love for friends and family. But he will be missed for his big heart most of all.

There will be a memorial service in Minnesota at 11 a.m., Sept. 17 at Anderson’s Funeral Home, 659 Voyager Dr., Alexandria, MN 56308.

Libby Services will be announced as details are finalized with family.

Jake and Sara Mertes were rich is spirit and love, with a matching zeal for adventure. The community of Libby is organizing a fund where donated contributions will be used to aid local organizations that supported their passion for the outdoors and for health care. In lieu of flowers, friends and family ask that donations be made via GoFundMe to support this endeavor. To donate to the memory of Jake and Sara, please visit We will notify donors how these funds are utilized.

A celebration of life will be held in Libby at 4 p.m., Oct. 1 at River Bend Restaurant.

Jacob Mertes and Dr. Sara Mertes

Jacob Mertes and Dr. Sara Mertes

 "July 2021 - Flight to Door County at 15,500 ... oxygen required."
Dr. James Edney

Jacob Mertes and Dr. Sara Mertes

 National Transportation Safety Board officials speaking with media after three people died Saturday when a plane came crashing to the ground in Victoria, Minnesota.

Dr. Sara Mertes, MD

Dr. Edney and Maizzie

Jacob Mertes and Dr. Sara Mertes

Dr. Sara Mertes, MD

Dr. James Edney

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Before the plane crashed in Victoria, pieces of it fell off and landed in Jim Frey’s lawn just blocks away.

Investigators say it was portions of the left elevator and left horizontal stabilizer on the back end of the plane.

“I got up out of my chair and I looked around my apple tree, there’s about six to seven-foot-long wing,” said Frey.

“That would definitely indicate that those fell off during flight,” said National Transportation Safety Board Investigator Mike Folkerts.

Without that piece of the plane, investigators say the pilot would have no control over where it lands.

The plane happened to land in a vacant lot but it could have been much worse as it’s right next to a highway, homes, and businesses.

“It kind of shook us up, we’re lucky it didn’t hit our house, I mean three pieces like that,” said Frey.

On board, 72-year-old Dr. James Edney a prominent surgeon from the Omaha area piloted the plan. His colleagues at the University of Nebraska Medical Center are referring to him as one of the top breast cancer specialists in the region.

His wife tells us their son and daughter-in-law were also on board, 42-year-old Jacob Mertes and his 37-year-old wife, Dr. Sara Mertes, of Libby, Montana.

NTSB investigators confirm no one survived the crash on Sunday.

“There was no distress call made,” said Folkerts.

But investigators say the plane was in contact with air traffic control before the crash.

It was coming from Alexandria and was 10 miles from its destination the Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie. It was cleared to land just before the crash.

“Our only focus here is to prevent another tragedy,” said Folkerts.

There is some engine data that investigators will look at along with plane maintenance logs and the pilot’s history and medical records.

They’ll also review the weather conditions from Saturday and talk to other pilots who flew through the area that day.

June 2012 - DPE and Dr. Edney

An Omaha surgeon and two relatives were killed in a plane crash Saturday evening in Victoria, according to family.

Jo Mertes of Mantador, North Dakota, confirmed in a phone call Sunday that her nephew, Jacob Mertes, was a passenger in the Mooney M20M / 257 TLS Bravo plane that crashed.

Jacob Mertes, 42, of Libby, Montana, was on the plane with his wife, Sara Mertes, MD  (Huddleston), 37, and stepfather, Dr. James Edney, 72, who was the pilot, according to Jo Mertes.

The Federal Aviation Administration has not identified the pilot or other victims, but the Carver County Sheriff's Office said there were "multiple victims" and "no survivors."

The City of Victoria said in a statement on the crash that there are "confirmed fatalities," but none from the nearby house on Rose Street that was struck by the plane and caught on fire. The family was home at the time of the crash, but no one there was injured, nor were any bystanders.

"This is a tragic event that happened near the heart of Victoria and our community will keep the victims of this incident and their loved ones in our thoughts and prayers during this time," the city said in the statement.

The plane is owned by Edney, an Omaha general surgeon and professor of surgery at University of Nebraska Medical Center. Sara Mertes' Facebook page shows that she was a physician at Cabinet Peaks Medical Center in Libby, while Jacob Mertes worked as a sanitarian and planner for the Lincoln County Health Department.