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BOISE -- Micron CEO Steve Appleton, the man the Wall Street Journal called one of the most prominent figures in the semiconductor industry, died suddenly and tragically Friday in a plane crash in Boise.

NTSB Investigator Zoe Keliher says 10 minutes before the crash at the Boise Airport Friday morning, Appleton took off, only to make it a few feet in the air before landing and returning to his hangar. At 8:54 a.m., he took off again from the south runway. Appleton was a few hundred feet in the air when he told the air traffic control tower that he'd like to turn back and land. In the background of the audio from the control tower, a woman's voice can be heard reacting with shock at what was happening.

Moments later, Appleton's plane hit the ground upside down.

Appleton was flying an Lancair 4 experimental aircraft. Almost two years ago, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a safety advisory about those types of high-performance kit planes.

The FAA claimed that the Lancairs and similar planes, expose pilots to additional risk during slow-speed operations while close to the ground and with little time to recover from an unintentional stall.

The agency also noted that, as of 2010, the planes experienced much higher fatal accident rates than other small planes, even other kit planes. Though, they did blame that mostly, on pilot error.

Lance Turk is an experimental aircraft pilot. He says kit planes are much safer than they might sound to the general public, and that the Lancair 4 is very advanced.

That aircraft is capable of operating at altitudes of 25,000 feet, and cruise speeds in the 280 mile-per-hour range, easily, said Turk.

But Turk admits, pilots of high-performance experimental aircraft must be experienced. That makes it all the more confusing how this happened to the long-time pilot, Appleton.

He was very well aware of the operational characteristics of that particular airplane, said Turk.

The NTSB will release a preliminary report in about five days, then a final report in the next six to 12 months.

Investigators will look for anything strange in the mechanics of the plane itself, that might reveal why it went down.

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