Thursday, March 31st, 2011
Airport manager killed
By Margie Wuebker
The manager of Lakefield Airport near Montezuma was killed Wednesday when his twin-engine Cessna crashed near the Pike County Regional Airport in eastern Kentucky.
David Miller of Portland, Ind., was hired by the Lakefield Airport Authority Board one year ago to run the local operations.
The crash occurred about 1 p.m. as Miller was attempting to land. The plane reportedly struck a mountainside and fell into a wooded valley below. Pikeville, Ky., Public Safety Director Paul Maynard was unavailable to provide more details this morning.
Steve Klosterman, president of the Lakefield Airport Authority, learned of the tragedy about 4 p.m. Wednesday and said he was told the area had heavy fog during the time of the crash. He said Miller, an accomplished pilot and flight instructor, left from Wright Brothers Airport near Miamisburg at 11 a.m. on a charter flight to Pikeville.
A passenger, reportedly from the Dayton area, also died in the crash.
"I understand the man was a longtime customer," Klosterman said. "He needed to get to Pikeville, and Dave wanted to get him there."
Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are at the scene today to investigate the cause of the crash. A preliminary incident report lists unknown circumstances.
Miller, who is in his early 50s, owned and operated Miller Aviation in Portland, Ind. The business had 17 planes and 10 pilots, transporting passengers and freight throughout Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. The pilots also did crop dusting for area farmers, according to Klosterman.
In addition to overseeing operations at Lakefield Airport, he managed the Portland Municipal Airport. He also farmed acreage near Portland and owned a gas station.
Miller recently had started a charter service at Lakefield Airport and was attempting to gain more customers. Just hours before the crash, he talked to The Daily Standard about his plans to expand.
He said most of his charter business involved flying local business people to Kentucky, Fort Wayne, Ind., and other sites less than three hours away.
"You've got a very progressive board over there who are doing everything they can to help the airport grow," Miller said Wednesday morning. "I've been very impressed."
Mercer County Commissioner Jerry Laffin said he didn't know Miller well but knew the services brought to the county-owned airport were a step in the right direction.
"Things were going well. I know they were doing a good job," he said.
Laffin called the tragedy a real shock and offered his sympathies to Miller's family.
Klosterman, who said Miller did an excellent job for the airport, said it is too soon to consider what changes will come in the wake of his death. He expects the board to convene in the coming weeks to discuss the situation.
"He loved to fly and run his business," Klosterman said. "He died doing what he loved."
Miller and his wife have three children.
Funeral arrangements are pending at Baird-Freeman Funeral Home in Portland.