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Former Navy fighter pilot killed in Lewiston plane crash taught at Top Gun

Dale Snodgrass was a legendary F-14 pilot. He was killed Saturday when his plane crashed and burst into fire near the runway.
Credit: US Naval Institute

LEWISTON, Idaho — A legendary F-14 pilot died in a plane crash Saturday afternoon at the Lewiston Nez Perce County Airport.

Dale “Snort” Snodgrass was killed when his SIAI-Marchetti SM.1019 crashed near the runway and caught fire. According to the U.S. Naval Institute, Snodgrass was a legendary F-14 pilot with more than 4,800 hours and 1,200 carrier landings in a Tomcat. He was a former Top Gun instructor and was named Fighter Pilot of the year in 1985. Once he retired from the Navy, he became a noted airshow performer.

In a press release, Lewiston Fire Chief Travis Myklebust said Snodgrass’ plane crashed at 12:11 p.m. He said crews quickly attacked the fire with a hose line and the aircraft rescue firetruck. The fire was under control in less than five minutes and it was confined to the plane and a small area of grass next to the taxiway.

Lewiston police and the Nez Perce County Sheriff’s Office secured the crash site.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration have completed their initial investigation of the crash, according to Airport Director Michael Issacs. The aircraft was released by the NTSB and wreckage was moved off site for continued investigation.

“As we move from recovery to investigation, our sincerest condolences go out to family and friends of aviation legend, Dale Snodgrass,” Issacs wrote in a press release.

The NTSB said a preliminary report will be available in about two weeks. The full investigation could take one to two years to complete. 

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