Retired Wash. firefighter killed in ultralight aircraft crash
Officials said Ronny Weston, 64, crashed a Solaris 16.8 ultralight aircraft on the Snake River shortly after taking off from a nearby airstrip
By Jonathan Glover
SPOKANE, Wash. — A retired Spokane firefighter was killed early Wednesday morning after authorities say he crashed his ultralight airplane on the Snake River.
Whitman County Sheriff’s deputies say 64-year-old Ronny F. Weston, of Cheney, crashed a Solaris 16.8 ultralight aircraft on the Snake River just east of Boyer Park and Marina after taking off from a nearby airstrip at about 6:30 a.m. He died at the scene.
An employee of the Lower Granite Dam reportedly told deputies that he saw wreckage of the small aircraft at about 7:15 a.m. on his way to work, according to a sheriff’s office news release. The employee said he saw a small portion of the aircraft on the railroad tracks just east of the park.
Weston’s family said he was an experienced ultralight pilot, according to the news release. He recently purchased the aircraft that crashed.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, Weston was operating on a student license, which he acquired in 2009.
Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer in a written statement said he was “deeply saddened by the tragic loss” of Weston.
The Spokane Firefighters Union released a picture of Weston late Wednesday night.
“Heavy hearts tonight as we learn the tragic news that one of our own retired members, Ron Weston, was killed early this morning in a tragic ultralight crash in Whitman County,” the union said.
According to a search of Spokesman-Review archives, Weston graduated from the Spokane Regional Fire Recruit Training Academy in 1999. When interviewed for the story, he talked highly of his fellow recruits, saying “you have to trust them.”
“You put your life in their hands,” he told the reporter.
Weston retired from the Spokane Fire Department in 2013.
A National Transportation Safety Board spokesperson couldn’t immediately say Thursday morning whether NTSB officials were assisting in the investigation.
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