Aspen architect, Rifle flight instructor killed in plane crash
Longtime Aspen architect David F. Gibson died Monday after the plane he was piloting crashed into a Montrose neighborhood.The crash also killed flight instructor Larry Smalley, 65, of Rifle. Smalley had more than 40 years of flying experience, said Montrose County Coroner Mark Young. Gibson, 61, was working to gain 15 hours of flight experience with the six-passenger plane for insurance purposes.There were no other passengers aboard the plane, and no one on the ground was injured. The plane slammed into a semi, and witnesses said the plane’s engine was sputtering or had stopped. Investigators believe the propeller wasn’t moving when the plane crashed, Young said.Local architect Augie Reno was Gibson’s business partner from 1981-99, and remembered him as a man who loved his family and profession.”He was a very quiet, conservative but dedicated man that was dedicated to his wife and family, and me as a partner,” Reno said. Reno also remembered Gibson for his creativity and approach to architecture. Gibson’s goal was to create lasting, timeless buildings, but also to have fun as a team, Reno said.”Our practice was kind of unusual in that one principal may have been in charge, but we worked on (projects) together,” Reno said.Gibson designed many homes in the area as well as the L’Auberge Lodge and the renovation of the Pitkin County Courthouse. But despite his accomplishments, Gibson never sought public recognition, Reno said.Gibson won numerous awards for his work, including the 2005 Award for Outstanding Preservation from the Aspen Historic Preservation Commission.Smalley was not a flight instructor through the Garfield County Regional Airport, but he did frequently pilot his plane from there. Airport manager Brian Condie said Smalley did not renew his monthly security gate card because he was planning to retire and move to the East Coast.”I knew (Smalley) on a personal level,” Condie said. “He was real friendly, knowledgeable and loved to fly.” The Associated Press and The Citizen Telegram in Rifle contributed to this report.
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Grace Wesseling is an animal lover, a cheerleader of seven years and another soon-to-be graduate of Bridges High School, class of 2021.