Zephyr Cove pilot dies in crash abroad | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Zephyr Cove pilot dies in crash abroad

Dylan Silver

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Chuck Kimes, a Zephyr Cove seaplane pilot and active member in the Tahoe Rim Trail Association, and three others died after the seaplane they were flying crashed after takeoff at the Al Ain International Airport in the United Arab Emirates Feb. 27.

The cause of the crash is unknown.

Friends and family are planning a memorial party for Kimes, 61, and Tyler Orsow, 25, another pilot who died in the crash, March 13 in Angel’s Camp, Calif.

“He was a great person,” said Lynda McDowell, who was executive director of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association while Kimes was a board member. “The thing I would say about him is ‘passion,’ just like he had for flying seaplanes, he gave everything he had to the association.”

Kimes donated thousands of dollars and many hours of his time to the Tahoe Rim Trail Association. McDowell remembered a time when Kimes stepped in financially to save the association from shutting down.

“He didn’t ask for recognition,” McDowell said. “It was all about giving back to Tahoe.”

Bill Hager, who was given his green crew leader hat by Kimes, remembered working with him on the Ward Creek Canyon portion of the Tahoe Rim Trail, a steep, difficult section far from vehicular access.

“He would always bring along a great big fat watermelon,” Hager said. “At the end of the day he’d cut it up and distribute it.”

Kimes was a pilot for American Airlines for 26 years. He helped organize the annual seaplane gathering, the Clear Lake Splash-In, the largest gathering of amphibious aircraft on the West Coast. He was spokesman for the Lake Tahoe Seaplane Pilots organization.

When the TRPA considered banning seaplanes from Lake Tahoe, Kimes was there with his knowledge of the historical use of seaplanes in the Tahoe basin. After a meeting with Kimes and other seaplane pilots, the TRPA did not recommend measures that would’ve restricted the ability of seaplanes to land on the lake.

“He was heavily involved with seaplane advocacy issues,” Jason Baker, owner and administrator of http://www.sea

planeforum.com, of which Kimes was a member, wrote on his website. “He will be sorely missed here and everywhere in the seaplane world.”

During the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill, Kimes used his seaplane to monitor the oil slicks. He reported the locations of shoreline areas hard hit by the oil as well as the major sites where oil spewed from the sunken Deepwater Horizon.

“This is a tough mission,” Kimes told the Tribune in June, 2010. “You hate to see such a beautiful region despoiled.”

After the earthquake in Haiti, Kimes helped Bill and Gina DaSilva of Carson City, Nev. gather donations so they could fly their Albatross seaplane with a medical team and 4,000 pounds of supplies to the battered country.

“It’s pretty much all consuming,” Kimes said to the Tribune in January, 2010. “We all have day jobs – I’m a captain for American Airlines. I just got back from London last night; on my layover I was soliciting donations.”

The benefit of the seaplane, Kimes told the Tribune, is that it could avoid the backlogged Port-au-Prince Airport.

Kimes and Orsow along with the two others, Landon Studer and Joshua Hucklebridge both from Texas, were flying the Grumman McKinnon G21G turboprop plane to the United States from Dubai. The route Kimes posted on seaplaneforum.com a week before their departure showed stops in Saudi Arabia, Libya, Morocco, and a water landing in the Amazon River among others.

Orsow, who turned 25 the day of the crash, grew up in Angels Camp, CA. Orsow and Kimes were close friends. according to Kimes’ eulogy. Hundreds of memories and comments have poured in to the Facebook page created for the two. More information about the memorial event can be found at http://www.Chuckand


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