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11:11 PM Sat, Sept. 22nd

Two people die in light aircraft crash near Paulden

PRESCOTT - A Prescott pilot and a passenger died Monday morning when an experimental/light sport aircraft crashed near Pilots Rest Airstrip in Paulden, about five miles west of Highway 89.

David Arthur Pelletier, 68, and his passenger Michael Francis Maikowski, 54, of Kent, Wash., didn't show any signs of life when first responders arrived.

A Falcon Way resident called 911 at 10:27 a.m. to report the crash after she and her husband saw the Kolb MK3 wreckage in their driveway.

Sally Strickland-McAleenan and Ken McAleenan said they didn't see the actual crash, but they heard a loud noise.

After Strickland-McAleenan reported the crash, she rushed to help the victims.

"There was absolutely no life in there," she said. "It is so sad."

She remained on the scene until the first Chino Valley Fire engine arrived, she said.

A couple of other witnesses were in the area, she said, and they told her that they saw the plane flying northwest toward nearby mountains, and as it made a turn it dove into the ground.

Strickland-McAleenan said she and her husband were familiar with the aircraft because Pelletier often flew in the area.

According to Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor, the aircraft took off from the airstrip branching off Falcon Way.

Strickland-McAleenan said, "This is a grandfathered airstrip. It has been there since the World War II" when the military used it to practice touch and go landings and take-offs, she said. "Most of the people like the airstrip and use it quite often."

As he watched authorities remove the bodies from the wreckage, Paulden resident Ron Stoks said, "It looks like a hard hit."

Stoks heard of the crash from a friend and rushed to the scene to see it for himself. He said he knew Pelletier for 10 years.

"He just got a sport-pilot license," said Stoks, who also owns an experimental aircraft. "He was flying a lot here. He had fun giving rides."

Because his friend was safety-minded, Stoks said, he wouldn't board the plane if he thought that it had a mechanical problem.

A few days before the October air show at the Prescott Airport, Stoks said, he and Pelletier flew in the DC3 with William "Billy" Friedman, a 40-year pilot who died in the Oct. 18 plane crash that also killed four other people on board.

Coincidently, Friedman saw the Sept. 2 plane crash that killed two adults and a teenager near the Piñon Oaks subdivision in Prescott.

The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the previous two incidents.

Gregor said a Scottsdale-based FAA crew and NTSB will investigate this incident also.

Contact the reporter at mburic@prescottaz.com