Pat and I had met Shannon and Elizabeth only recently, but we were immediately drawn to them. We spent most of a recent party sitting with them poolside, talking flying and airplanes and travel and family. They were relaxed and friendly and warm. We parted with plans to get in touch about organizing a "fly-out" for pilots based at KVKX. Shannon was a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army. He'd graduated from West Point in 1991, and had served our country in the Balkans and in several posts in Africa. Currently posted to the Pentagon, he was a a noted expert on African affairs. Elizabeth was a patent and securities attorney in private practice, and a mom with two small children.
Shannon Beebe, a Commercial Pilot, was consumed by a love of flying. He didn't have an airplane of his own but he had lots of friends with airplanes and never seemed in want of a ride. He had logged 1,000 hours of bush flying in Alaska and Africa and that, along with seaplane flying, was what he loved the most. The airplane he was flying last Sunday was a friend's Maule M-7-235 on amphibious floats. The NTSB's Preliminary Report quotes a witness, in part:
...he had observed the airplane enter the downwind leg of the traffic pattern for the runway and while turning from the base leg to the final leg of the approach the airplane banked to the left. The airplane appeared to continue to bank to approximately 75 degrees, at which point the nose pitched over to an almost vertical attitude. The airplane impacted the ground in an open field prior to the runway threshold, and exploded.
This one hurts a lot.