By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer
CHECOTAH — A Checotah businessman was killed Saturday when the airplane he was flying crashed across U.S. 266 from his house west of town.
Doug Hyer, 42, was flying his single-engine experimental airplane when it crashed in a field two and one-half miles west of Checotah. Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Trey Downum said Hyer’s plane apparently had mechanical failure when it crashed shortly after 4 p.m. Hyer was alone in the plane, Downum said. The field was across from Hyer’s home, where friends said he had an airstrip.
David Dias, who lives east of the crash, said he saw Hyer fly toward the south before banking and going down. A thick row of trees separate the Dias home from crash site.
“He was passing over the trees, like he was going to make a turn, then he went straight down,” Dias said. “He banked and went straight into the ground.”
Dias said he ran toward where the plane went down, then heard the crash.
“It was like two cars crashing,” he said, adding that he had someone in his house call 911.
Randy Wood, who lives south of the crash site, said he neither saw nor heard the plane go down. He said Dias came to his house and told him. Wood said he walked up to the scene and saw Hyer’s body.
Wood said Hyer was well-known and well-liked in the area.
Hyer was owner of Barnstormer’s, a Checotah barbecue restaurant, now closed. He also repaired appliances and heating/air conditioning units. He was a member of the Lottawatta Volunteer Fire Department.
“He had just a big heart,” said Mike Anderson, Lottawatta Fire Chief. “He was a good guy who liked to help people.”
Several of Hyer’s friends and fellow pilots gathered as close as they could to where the plane went down. A yellow tape kept people several yards from where OHP and Federal Aviation Administration officials investigated the crash.
Hyer loved to fly, said Rick McAdoo of Checotah.
“He was flying all the time,” McAdoo said. “His plane was just a little light experimental plane.”
McAdoo said Hyer owned the plane, a two-seater, and was talking about selling it.
“I just can’t believe he’d go flying, with the wind as it is,” McAdoo said.
McAdoo said he had just talked to Hyer the day before.
“I was DJ at his wedding three, four, five years ago,” McAdoo said. Hyer had a wife, but no children, he said.
Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or email@example.com.