WILLMAR, Minn. - A plane crash that killed two people Tuesday night in Florida has rocked the New London and Spicer communities.
Although Florida officials have not released the names, the 2009 single-engine Epic LT plane involved in the crash had left the Willmar airport earlier in the day and is owned by Independent Technologies Inc., which lists Daryl Ingalsbe, of Spicer, as the president and CEO.
Ingalsbe has homes in Spicer and Florida and he frequently flew the plane from Willmar to his other home and business locations, including his home state of Nebraska.
When contacted at the Independent Technologies headquarters in Blair, Nebraska, a representative would not confirm information about the crash and said the company was not prepared to make a statement Wednesday regarding Mr. Ingalsbe but would likely do so on Thursday.
Local sources say that New London businesswoman Deb Solsrud - an active community member in the New London-Spicer School District - was killed in the crash.
A statement issued Wednesday by NLS Director of Communications Megan Field said that Solsrud died when the small plane in which she was traveling crashed in Florida.
According to a story published Oct. 22 in the West Central Tribune of Willmar, Solsrud had flown with her partner Ingalsbe in the past.
Forum Communications owns the West Central Tribune, which also owns Forum News Service.
In its statement, the NLS School District said Solsrud was a “loving parent” and involved community member. “Deb’s dedication to education and the betterment of our NLS community will be sorely missed,” said Field.
Solsrud was a charter member and former president of the NLS Parent Teacher Organization, she coordinated the inaugural event for the Girls United program that served middle school-aged girls and she worked to pass the technology levy for NLS several years ago.
“As a strong supporter of the technology levy, Deb led the charge informing and gaining community involvement and support,” said the NLS statement.
According to FlightAware, which tracks flights online, a single-engine experimental plane with the FAA registration of N669WR left the Willmar Municipal Airport at 12:31 p.m. Tuesday, landed in Tennessee around 2:30 and then left around 3 p.m. for a three-hour flight to the Spruce Creek Fly-In residential community in Port Orange, Florida.
According to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, the plane crashed in the fog around 6 p.m. in a front yard in the Spruce Creek community.
The plane narrowly missed two houses, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
No one on the ground was injured, but the pilot and passenger in the plane were killed.
The Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal reported that the pilot initially missed the approach. Eric Weiss, spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, told the News-Journal that the plane "crashed on go around after a missed approach.”
According to the Sheriff’s Office, a witness who reported the crash told a dispatcher he saw the aircraft fly into the fog, and that the plane was “in an inverted flat spin when he came out of the fog.”
“He came right over the house - I knew he was in trouble,” the caller said.
Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson told the News-Journal it looked like the plane stalled or came down in a spin.
"It came pretty much straight down," Johnson said. "It appears as though it barely missed two houses."
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.
Earlier this year, the West Central Tribune featured Ingalsbe in a story about a 21-day trip around the world during which he and Solsrud flew in his fixed wing, single-engine turboprop Epic airplane with two dozen other aviation enthusiasts.
Named the “Odyssey,” the trip was the first of its kind to incorporate experimental aircraft and included other owners of Epic planes as well as a documentary film crew.
“It was the trip of a lifetime,” Solsrud said during an interview. “It certainly gives you a renewed perspective on the world and its beauty.”
Ingalsbe is quoted as saying the plane was his “freedom machine” that allowed him to “get anywhere I want in a matter of hours.”
The trip, which was expected to be recognized by Guinness World Records, began July 7 and included stops in 21 cities in countries on three continents.
“It was some experience,” Ingalsbe said.