ANGEL FIRE, N.M. — Two Great Bend residents, Richard “Rick” Schenk and his wife Ann “Annie” Schenk, died Sunday morning when the single-engine airplane Richard was piloting crash shortly after takeoff from an airport at Angel Fire, N.M., about 24 miles east of Taos.
Richard Schenk, 65, was described as an experienced commercial rated pilot. He was the chief executive officer of Community Bank of the Midwest in Great Bend.
Lt. Mike Woolley, a firefighter and public information officer for the Angel Fire Fire Department, said the plane was a Piper Cherokee 180, a single-engine aircraft.
Woolley posted information on the fire department’s Facebook page, stating the cause of the crash is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration. The post concluded, “Our condolences go out to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Schenk.”
Multiple 911 calls were made at 8:48 a.m. Sunday regarding a plane down in a field between Zeb’s Restaurant and True Value Hardware. Angel Fire Police were notified by witnesses and arrived on scene at 8:50 and an Angel Fire ambulance arrived at 8:53.
The fire department arrived a minute later and the fire was extinguished by 9 a.m.
Witnesses said there were strong wind gusts that morning. The plane clipped the roof of Zeb’s Restaurant and Bar.
The Angel Fire Airport does not have a control tower. According to airnav.com it is located in a mountain valley with rising terrain in all directions, and strong gusty crosswinds are possible.
Woolley said the airport reported winds of 22-30 knots Sunday morning but stressed that it is unknown if the wind was a factor in the crash.
“We do not know the cause of the accident,” he said. “The NTSB and FAA are still investigating.”
Funeral arrangements are pending with Bryant Funeral Home in Great Bend.