By Thomas Garcia
Jeffery Lane, 57, who died Aug. 15 in a plane crash near Mosquero, had only been in possession of his new airplane for six days.
Lane, who was piloting the plane, and passenger Ryan Hartley, 34, of Roy died in the crash that is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Lane was president of the Bell Ranch and had worked at the ranch since 1974. He also served on the boards of several banks and was also on the board of Lane Industries, according to his obituary notice.
Lane often came to Tucumcari for business and to purchase supplies.
He had recently purchased the Zlin Aviation SRO Savage single engine, fixed-wing airplane from Glen Sullivan of Spotsylvania, Va.
“It is a tragedy,” Sullivan said. “Jeffery Lane was one of the nicest persons you could ever meet. He was the absolute definition of a cowboy and he loved everything about the cowboy lifestyle. I wish I could have gotten the chance to know him better.”
Lane and Sullivan met earlier this year at an airshow in Oshkosh, Wis., where Lane had first seen the airplane, Sullivan said.
The sale and new registration of the aircraft had not had time to be processed, said Sullivan. Paperwork still needed to be filled out and mailed to the Federal Aviation Administration for the aircraft to be registered to Lane, Sullivan said.
“I contacted Mr. Lane’s wife the day of the crash to remind him to send me the rest of the registration papers and she informed me of what had happened,” Sullivan said. “I was so shocked you could have knocked me over with a feather.”
The aircraft was delivered to Lane on Aug. 10, Sullivan said. The aircraft had only 32 hours of flight time, Sullivan said.
“I did not have any problems with the aircraft. I was still in shock when the FAA contacted me the following day to inform me that the plane registered in my name had been in a fatal crash,” Sullivan said.
The crash occurred at 10 a.m. on Aug. 15 three miles northwest of Mosquero, according to the NTSB’s preliminary report by aviation investigator Jennifer Kaiser.
Lane and Hartley departed the Bell Ranch Airport at 9:30 a.m., according to the report. Lane was flying without a flight plan over the Bell Ranch and was surveying the area in order to find an ideal location for a new road, the report stated.
“When the flight did not return to the ranch airport, a search was initiated and the wreckage was located at 6 p.m.,” the report stated.
“The plane was reported missing around 5:45 p.m., and we were on the scene of the crash within 35-45 minutes after,” Harding County Sheriff Herman Martinez said.
The plane was first reported missing by Dorris Hartley, the mother of Ryan Hartley, Martinez said. A search team was organized and the wreckage was located by Hartley’s father, a pilot, who was flying over the area and relayed the location back to the ground units, Martinez said. The crash site was on the Bell Ranch and was in San Miquel County. Once the scene was secure, it was turned over to the New Mexico State Police out of Las Vegas, Martinez said.
“It is a tragedy and a great loss to the communities,” Martinez said. “Both Lane and Hartley were large supporters of the communities and schools of Roy and Mosquero. I grew up with and knew Ryan for most of my life.”
“The airplane impacted rugged uneven terrain and vegetation, in a nose low attitude, on a northerly heading,” according to the NTSB’s preliminary report.