Friends remember victim of Thursday afternoon plane crash - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Friends remember victim of Thursday afternoon plane crash

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IOWA FALLS (KWWL) -- Iowa Falls police are identifying the victim of a Thursday afternoon plane crash. The pilot, and only person in the plane, was 74-year-old William Henry Klemme of Alden, Iowa.

The crash happened near the Iowa Falls Municipal Airport just before 1:30. Investigators believe Klemme was attempting to land his plane when the engine died -- sending the aircraft into a nose-dive.

"He just built the plane, and he was going to go take it out for his first flight, and he didn't make it," said Sheriff Deputy Travis Prochaska.

Witnesses, emergency workers, and friends are in shock to hear Klemme's final landing ended tragically.

"Quiet, dedicated man," recalled fellow pilot Verv Davidson. "He loved to fly."

Deputy Prochaska was one of the first people to respond to the scene. He said witnesses helped remove Klemme from the plane, but he did not survive the crash.

"It's just a lot of fire, a lot of smoke, nothing I ever hope to see again," said Prochaska.

Prochaska is also a new pilot. Thursday's crash is making a real impact on how he'll manage his aircraft in the future.

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"I've only been flying since February, and I got my license about a month ago. Coming out here to the scene and seeing something like this makes you stop and think about really what you're doing," he said.

Klemme had been flying for years, and encouraged others to take up the hobby. His friends are hoping this accident will not cast a dark cloud on future pilots looking to the sky.

"Adamant pilot. Very involved with the airport and the community. He was a member of the local EEA Chapter here at the Iowa Falls Airport, put a lot of volunteer time in...and he will be missed," said Prochaska.

"Just had a lot of spirit about him... He was just a great man to have around," added Davidson.

Klemme was flying, what is commonly known as, a "kit" plane. He built it himself, and unveiled the finished aircraft to friends this week. The FAA is continuing to investigate the accident.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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