By SCOTT PESZNECKER
A San Andreas man who was a satellite broadcasting pioneer and his stepson were killed early Wednesday afternoon when the single-engine plane they were in crashed shortly after takeoff from the Calaveras County Airport.
Henry Taylor Howard, 70, and his 37-year-old stepson, Bryan Files a Calaveras County native living in Palmer, Alaska died instantly when Howard's Beechcraft Bonanza smashed nose-first into a bed of large rocks in an otherwise flat, grassy field.
Another passenger, Mokel-umne Hill resident Dean Hollingsworth, 37, had been sitting in the back seat. He suffered major ankle and back injuries and was flown to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto for treatment. He was listed in serious condition this morning.
The plane crashed at 1:05 p.m., about half a mile north of the end of the runway at 3210 Union Mine Road. Pieces of the airplane, including the orange nose section, littered the dry grass.
From his hangar near the runway's north end, airport flight instructor Marc Barenfeld had a good view of Howard's final flight. He said the plane took off toward the north and rose to about 300 feet before Barenfeld heard the "popping" sound of the engine failure.
But Barenfeld said the Bonanza did not go into a nose dive. Rather, he said, it took a right turn and "went into a glide," seemingly en route to a safe landing.
"It didn't just plummet down," Barenfeld said. "I thought it was going to be OK. But I heard the impact very clearly."
"(Howard) was a very good, very experienced pilot," Barenfeld said. "This had nothing to do with him; it was just a rare, unusual thing. It's just very unfortunate.
"He's going to really be missed."
Howard created the first known home satellite television system in 1976, according to the Alexandria, Va.-based Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association.