YAKIMA, Wash. - A retired man who died with his wife in a plane crash on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Range was an experienced pilot who had just finished a dream trip in a plane he spent 10 years assembling.
Eugene C. Long, 70, and Jeanette Long, 68, of Lafayette, Colo., were identified over the weekend as the couple who died Friday when their four-seat Lancair ES slammed into a hillside near the Little Naches River between Naches and Easton.
Their remains were recovered Saturday as federal investigators began trying to determine the cause of the crash.
The Longs were heading from Ketchikan to Mountain Home, Idaho, on their return from a guided multiday flying trip in Alaska. Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers lost radar and radio contact with them as they were south of Cle Elum.
The couple left Olympia on July 22 for a week-and-a-half flying tour with Let's Fly Alaska in Fairbanks.
"Who knows what happened? It would be irresponsible for me to speculate," Let's Fly owner Dale Hemman said. "He and his wife were just wonderful people - ordinary, sweet, wonderful people."
To go on a Let's Fly trip, a pilot must establish credentials and undergo a six-month training and preparation program to become familiar with flying conditions in Alaska, Hemman said.
Juneau Empire ©2013. All Rights Reserved.