EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Friends of the paraglider who died in an aircraft crash on Saturday, April 1, in Santa Teresa have identified him as Lee Boone.
Boone leaves behind a wife and two daughters, they say.
A witness tells KTSM the aircraft was a Delta Wing Ultralight, or a “hang glider trike.”
His friends and fellow pilots say he was an experienced aviator and always took safety seriously. The news of Saturday’s accident stunned El Paso’s flying community.
“When someone goes like this so unexpectedly, and it’s something you can relate too. Flying like we do, it’s a harder thing to accept,” said Tom Bird, a friend and fellow pilot.
Another friend, Anthony Vella, says he was flying with Boone when his aircraft went down.
“It almost feels as though since he passed that time stopped. It’s almost in that moment where I just see what I saw ultimately,” Vella said.
Vella described Boone as a family man and all-around good person. He shared the story of his wedding day when Boone flew over.
“On our wedding day as we were saying our vows, I hear that sound of the paramotor coming up and it was a total surprise. It was Lee and a couple of other guys from the flying community circling around my wife and I as we got married,” Vella said.
Vella said if you ever saw a paraglider in the sky, there is a good chance it was Boone.
“I know that the people around El Paso from all of the messages that I have seen, that they loved to look up in the sky and see Lee. And just for the people of El Paso, he loved looking down and seeing everybody smiling on the ground and waving, so I suppose it’s important to know that he appreciated them as well,” Vella said.
The accident happened on Saturday when Boone was flying out of the Santa Teresa Airport. His friends say the aircraft he was flying was different from what he normally flew. His friends describing the aircraft as a handglider on top of a two-seat cart with wheels.
Another pilot and friend, Clint Chamales, recalled what Boone’s 12-year-old daughter said when she arrived at the scene of the crash.
“She said, ‘Who’s going to teach me how to fly now?'” Chamales said. “And later, (she) said, ‘Some day I’m going to be a pilot just like my dad,’ and she will be, I know for sure.”
Chamales met Lee in 2018 and says they have flown together on a weekly basis since then.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.
Friends have set up a GoFundMe for the Boone family.