A plane crash in rural Missouri last week killed two southern Illinois men, including a longtime SIU information technology employee.
John R. Johnson, a 74-year-old Carbondale native who worked at the university for nearly 20 years, and Carl S. Maiden, 47, of DuQuoin, were killed Wednesday morning when the small plane they were flying crashed in a pasture near Canton, Mo.
The two men were flying from Pinckneyville to Iowa for an airshow when the 1956 Piper-23-150 plane owned by Johnson crashed around 6 a.m., according to a statement from Parrish and Lewis County Coroner Larry Arnold.
The two men were pronounced dead at 9:20 p.m. Wednesday.
The crash is believed to be an accident, according to reports from Arnold.
Jak Tichenor of WSIU knew Johnson through the Experimental Aviation Association Chapter 277 in Carbondale. Tichenor said Johnson was a longtime active member of the group of pilots and flying enthusiasts.
“It’s a terrible tragedy to lose someone like John,” Tichenor said. “He was a wonderful person who will be greatly missed by his family and his many friends. My heart goes out to his family and to the family of the other gentleman who was flying with him.”
Tichenor also said Johnson especially loved antique airplanes, which was what Johnson was flying when he died.
“John was one of the smartest people I ever met, and he was a treasure trove of information about antique aircraft and how to keep them flying,” he said.
Tichenor said Johnson was instrumental in bringing Morris Library into the computer age during his time at SIU.
“He was also a very friendly person,” Tichenor said. “I never saw him without a smile on his face.”
Charles Rodriguez, a visiting lecturer of aviation, worked with Johnson as safety counselors for the Federal Aviation Administration and was also a member of Chapter 277.
Rodriguez said Johnson ran an airplane repair business at the Pinckneyville Airport for many years and had a very strong passion for flying.
“He possessed varied knowledge in the discipline of aeronautics, and he was an aircraft mechanic and inspector,” Rodriguez said. “He will be missed by many in aviation.”
Maiden was also active with Chapter 277 and loved flying, Rodriguez said.
David NewMyer, chair of the aviation department, said he did not know either man, but the loss is very sad.
“Any accident that happens in the aviation world is one too many,” NewMyer said. “Any accident that strikes pilots and their families close to home is never good. All of us at SIUC Aviation are thinking of those families in this time of mourning and hope that whatever happened comes to light so that we can learn from the accident.”