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A plane that disappeared Thursday during a flight out of Rancho Murieta Airport was piloted by Wally Boeck, a Murietan who staged an aviation summer camp for youth this year and headed a group of local pilots at Murieta Airport.

Aviator friends of Boeck's, gathering Friday morning at Murieta Airport, said they'd been told the plane's wreckage was located south of Lake Camanche, 40 miles from Murieta.

The Calaveras County Sheriff's Department said the wreckage was found at mid-morning scattered over a wide area near Highway 12. They confirmed one fatality in the crash.

Two planes left Murieta Airport Thursday, one of them Boeck's Globe Swift GC1A and the other a plane that intended to fly alongside.

Wally Boeck

Wally Boeck staged a summer camp for young aviators this year. (RanchoMurieta.com file photo) 

Neighbor Frank Falusi and a Murieta pilot were in the chase plane. Falusi said he was videotaping Boeck's plane as a favor to Boeck, who was flying solo. Falusi said they took off about 4 p.m., flew briefly in formation, and within five minutes lost radio contact with Boeck.

Boeck's plane began to behave erratically, Falusi said, and the chase plane had to keep a safe distance.

"It flew itself for over an hour," Falusi said of the other craft. He said the plane was doing climbs and dives and working its way south and east.

After an hour, Falusi said, the chase craft was low on fuel and had to return to Murieta Airport.

Crews searched for the missing plane overnight in Amador and Calaveras counties. Falusi said the searchers asked for a copy of his videotape, thinking it might help them locate the plane.

Neighbor Ted Ryon first posted the news in the RM.com forums shortly before 7 a.m. Friday. In a phone interview, he said he had talked with Boeck's family.

Boeck's colleagues were at the airport Friday morning. Some, like Zac Bowers, had been part of the search for the plane. "We're all kind of in shock still," Bowers said. "At least he went out doing what he loved."

"It's a real tragedy," said Chuck Lentz. "He served his country well."

"And his community," another aviator added.

"Everything that's been done around here with that has to do with aviation, Wally did it," Dick Valladao said. "He'll be missed."


Wally Boeck's flying associates gather at Murieta Airport Friday morning.

Boeck and the same aircraft were involved in an accident at Murieta Airport in February 2006. The National Transportation Safety Board report says the plane edged off the runway during landing, hit soft soil and flipped over.

In an interview last summer, Boeck said his plane was built in 1946, and he had been lovingly restoring it.

According to a web site for his consulting business, Boeck, 67, served 20 years in the Marine Corps, retiring as a lieutenant colonel test pilot. He held a number of corporate titles and served most recently as executive director of California's Student Aid Commission and chief executive officer of the state's Student Loan Guaranty Agency.

Boeck has been president of the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association and has lobbied to restore full flying service at Murieta Airport. He also has opposed community development plans in sessions with the county.

Three times a year, Boeck and others have offered free flying sessions for youth at RM Airport. That program, called the Young Eagles, has given hundreds of kids their first taste of aviation.

Boeck's work with budding aviators was the subject of an RM.com video last month. You can see that video, shot by Falusi, here.

Nellie Bloom's picture
Joined: 08/03/2007
Posts: 362
Post rating: 587

Our prayers

are with the pilot and family.  

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