New Mexico State Police on Tuesday identified the people killed in Monday’s fiery airplane crash at Santa Fe Regional Airport as flying instructor Larry Haight, 72, and student pilot Edward Jay Goldgehn, 60, both of Santa Fe.
The two-seat, single-engine plane crashed and burned shortly after 3:30 p.m. on a secondary runway at the airport, and both men died at the scene, authorities said Tuesday.
The manager of the airport southwest of the city said at the time of the incident, the pair had been practicing takeoffs and landings in a small, light aircraft, which the owner said was leased to Sierra Aviation.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating what caused the tragedy. NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said investigators will gather information for the next couple of days before the aircraft is removed from the site and taken for further examination. Typically, initial NTSB reports are posted within several days of a crash; final reports may take up to a year.
The weather conditions were clear at the airport Monday afternoon, with winds blowing between 12 and 18 mph, according to Alyssa Clements, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.
The fixed-wing aircraft the two men were flying, a Tecnam P2002 Sierra according to the FAA, is classified as a Light Sport aircraft, owned by Volare LLC in Santa Fe. Robin Smith, Volare managing member, said she had leased the plane to Sierra Aviation for lessons and other flying activities.
Smith said that she had known Haight for about a decade and that he taught her how to fly about eight years ago.
“He’s a wonderful, wonderful guy,” Smith said. “He was a real gentleman. Just a real, solid, sweet man.”
A Sierra Aviation website lists Haight as one of three instructors employed by the company. After serving in the Air Force until 1989, his biography says, Haight became a commercial pilot and a flight instructor, as well as a licensed aircraft mechanic with more than 10,000 hours of flight time, including more than 8,200 hours as an instructor.
“He was just a lovely person,” Smith said. “He’ll be much missed by the whole aviation community.”
Attempts to reach relatives or associates of Goldgehn by phone were unsuccessful.
Goldgehn’s LinkedIn page says he was associated with a multinational information technology services corporation and a former historian for the Lamy Railroad and History Museum.
According to the NTSB’s Aviation Accident Database, there were eight previous crashes involving the Italian-made Tecnam P2002 aircraft from 2008-13, none of which were fatal.
Monday’s fatal crash was the second at Santa Fe Regional Airport in the past five months.