Friends describe 56-year-old Dean Hilde as a humble man with nearly three decades of flying experience. Hilde was flying with his friend, 42-year-old Gerald Bublitz, when their plane crashed about 25 miles south of Murphy in Owyhee County. Hilde was pronounced dead at the scene. Bublitz was flow to Saint Alphonsus in Boise where, as of Monday, he was in serious condition.
You may remember Hilde from a story KTVB did back in the spring of 2016. Hilde went up against both city and county leaders to build a private air strip on his land up in the foothills.
Last Friday, Toby Ashley along with Dean Hilde and Gerald Bublitz, were scouting elk hunting spots in Owyhee County when the plane Hilde and Bublitz were in went down.
“Just an unusual event. They got a really bad gust of wind that could have come off the mountain, like a flash flood would come down and knock your car off the road and I think it was a similar type accident like that,” Ashley said.
Ashley says Hilde had just taken off and was about three quarters of a mile away from him when his plane went down.
“I had not left the ground yet and so I shut my airplane down immediately and went over to give rescue to them,” Ashley said.
Ashley along with another man in the area were able to pull the two from the wreckage and call for help.
“I was able to cut Jerry free from his seatbelt and get him drug out of the airplane,” Ashley said.
Bublitz was flown to Saint Alphonsus in Boise with serious injuries. Hilde unfortunately died in the crash.
“Was quite accomplished pilot and business man and just a wonderful guy. I don't know if I ever met a more honest, humble gentleman than him,” Ashley said.
Steve Williams, a long-time friend of Hilde, says the two had been flying with each other since they were teenagers growing up in Wyoming; and Hilde was a very experience pilot.
“We actually started flying hang gliders together in Wyoming when we were teenagers,” Williams said.
A love that only grew as time went on.
“He's just a wonderful man, gentleman, husband, father of two, and I miss him already,” Ashley said.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.