A Kentucky native was among the 11 people killed on the Sunset Skydiving Tour that crashed shortly after takeoff Friday and burst into flames.
Larry Lemaster was a professional skydiving instructor who grew up in northeastern Kentucky. He was a 1986 graduate of Russell High School where he also starred in football.
Lemaster was an Army veteran with more than 3,000 jumps and a member of Team Fastrax, a skydiving group out of Columbus, Ohio. They issued a statement on Facebook:
“Our hearts are broken! Our Brother, our friend, our teammate, Larry Lemaster was killed in yesterday’s tragic aircraft accident in Hawaii. In all the years we have known Larry he never said a negative word about anyone. He impacted everyone he met in a positive way through his kindness and love for all. We can learn a lot from Larry Lemaster and how he “lived” his life. Gods blessings upon you Brother!”
Lemaster’s wife, Anna Elkins, also posted a tribute on Facebook.
“Larry Lemaster would never want one person to waste a single minute of their life mourning his. He was doing what he loved. We spoke about this on many occasions. Today is the worst day of my life. My son has lost his father. He wants you to celebrate his life and your own. Love who you love with great intensity. Do what makes you happy. Be the person you want to be because obviously tomorrow is not guaranteed.”
No one aboard survived the Hawaii crash, which left a small pile of smoky wreckage near the chain link fence surrounding Dillingham Airfield, a one-runway seaside airfield, The Associated Press reported.
Steven Tickemyer saw the plane take flight, get 75 to 100 feet (22 to 30 meters) off the ground and turn away from the mountain range nearby.
He said the plane started to nosedive, then flipped over belly forward so that it was upside down. The aircraft then flipped over again, and hit the ground nose first. He said there was an explosion when it hit the ground.
Tickemyer told AP this all happened in about 20 to 30 seconds.