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Print 25 comment(s) - last by Hellfire27.. on Feb 9 at 2:22 PM

Executive was piloting experimental plane, had crashed once before unharmed

Memory chipmaker Micron Technology, Inc. (MU) and the business world as a whole was rocked on Friday when news broke that Micron CEO and Chairman Steven Appleton had died tragically in a plane crash.

Mr. Appleton was reportedly piloting a Lancair fixed-wing single-engine plane from Boise Airport, when a crash occurred at 8:58 a.m.  Local sources are indicating that the aircraft was an experimental design.  According to local news site KBOI:

At a press conference Friday afternoon, a NTSB investigator said witnesses reportedly saw the plane climb between 100-200 feet, make a sharp maneuver, stall and then roll into the ground.

The crash was perhaps foreshadowed by a fortuitous 2004 crash landing in which Mr. Appleton was forced to crash land a craft he was piloting in an open field.  He and his passenger escaped that encounter with only bumps and bruises.

The CEO was a Boise State University graduate and a keen sportsman, attending the university's business administration program on a tennis scholarship.  After graduation he played professional tennis for six months. He then joined Micron in 1983.  He would go on to become president and chief operating officer in 1991.  In 1994 he switched roles to CEO and president and then 2007, he transitioned to being just the CEO and Chairman.

Micron has been publicly traded since 1984.  Shares of the company were frozen following the sad news.  

Micron CEO plane crash
[Image Source: KBOI/YouTube]

Micron is a bastion of the Idaho area, employing 5,000-5,500 employees in the state last year, out of its global workforce of around 20,000 employees.

Mr. Appleton was a board member of the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) -- an industry trade group.  SIA president Brian Toohey in a prepared statement remarked, "Steve was a visionary and a true leader in our industry. He will be deeply missed..."

In a press release Micron writes:

We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Appleton, Micron Chairman and CEO, passed away this morning in a small plane accident in Boise. He was 51.

Our hearts go out to his wife, Dalynn, his children and his family during this tragic time.

Steve's passion and energy left an indelible mark on Micron, the Idaho community and the technology industry at large.

Micron is today the only DRAM manufacturer in the United States and is No. 287 on the 2011 Fortune 500 list.  The company reversed losses in 2008 and 2009, posting a healthy profit in 2010.  But in 2011 that profit slid, and in Q4 2011 Micron was back in the red.

DailyTech would like to extend its thoughts and sympathies to Mr. Appleton's family and his many close friends at Micron.

Sources: Micron, KBOI, SIA Board



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Sad..
By borismkv on 2/3/2012 5:29:22 PM , Rating: 3
I knew a lot of people who worked for Micron while I was in Idaho. They seem to be a good company. It's always sad to hear of someone dying in a plane crash like this.

On a lighter note, every time I read the last name Appleton in my head, it gets pronounced in the same manner that Balki from Perfect Strangers pronounced it...




RE: Sad..
By kleinma on 2/3/12, Rating: -1
RE: Sad..
By kleinma on 2/6/2012 10:23:22 AM , Rating: 1
Ummm for the record my dance of joy was soley in reference to Perfect Strangers.. not to the Micron CEO getting killed in a plane crash...

perhaps not the best reference to make here ;)


RE: Sad..
By Hellfire27 on 2/3/2012 7:13:58 PM , Rating: 2
As someone working in the IT industry in Idaho, I can say that Micron has been very good and very bad for the state. Most state institutions and a lot of businesses bought in Micron and purchased large quantities of their Micron brand (MPC)computers. As published here a few years ago, MPC folded and hung all of their customers out to dry. All warranties, support, and current orders were immediately ceased.

Since then my company (and many others) have been forced to run an unsupported client platform. As you can imagine, most companies are going to shell out for replacing the entire client side environment in one swoop. We have been slowly migrating to Dell, but with budget cuts and poor economic outlook it may take a few years yet.

I think Micron saw it coming though. Before, they were all Micron computers; and then they dumped all their computer manufacturing assets into MPC. Not longer after, they disappeared. In any case Micron put a huge hurt on businesses all over the state and were very unapologetic.
They do employ a lot of people though. Their Crucial products are doing great last time I checked.


RE: Sad..
By gemsurf on 2/4/2012 7:43:22 AM , Rating: 5
If you are working in the IT industry in Idaho and make comments like this, you need to find another line of work!

Check your facts, the parent Micron hasn't been in any way, an owner or any part of MPC or Micron Computers since 1999. MPC has been thru many owners and names since that time.

Micron Technologies who Steve Appleton was CEO of, is the parent of Crucial and several other companies but has had nothing to do with Micron brand computers or MPC since the 1999 sale. If your still using computers that predate the 1999 sale, You probably are beyond any help manufacturing support could give anyway!


RE: Sad..
By Samus on 2/4/2012 11:26:21 AM , Rating: 2
Appearantly this kit plane he built himself was inspected and certified to fly by the FAA. If it crashed immediately upon its maiden voyage, it appears 'something' was missed as I doubt Steve with his vast piloting experience was at fault. This is very sad.


RE: Sad..
By cjc1103 on 2/4/2012 2:13:20 PM , Rating: 2
Lancair is a reputable manufacturer of kit aircraft, but as another post said, the owner/builder is responsible for at least 51% of the construction. If this was indeed the aircraft's maiden voyage, the accident could have been caused by a lots of things, such as a CG aft of the allowable limit, a control malfunction such as the ailerons could have been rigged incorrectly, trim control could have been reversed, or he could have had a fuel line blockage causing a power loss after takeoff. There's a thousand things that could go wrong. Yes the aircraft is inspected for basic airworthiness before flight, but on a kit airplane like this, it takes time to get problems worked out to prove the aircraft reliable.


RE: Sad..
By EricMartello on 2/6/2012 2:33:24 AM , Rating: 2
Having worked on cars for a lot of my life, I can say that machines can be quite finicky and prone to "WTF" issues that happen even if you think all is well. It's often something dumb, like a connector that isn't completely connected or some debris stuck in a tube, a faulty relay that works "sometimes" but not always...things that you would miss during a visual inspection.

I trust my mechanical abilities but not to the extent that I'd stake my life on it by flying a kit plane I built myself without being able to test it without flying it (i.e. anchored in a wind tunnel). Having WTF problem mid-flight often a death sentence.


RE: Sad..
By Hellfire27 on 2/9/2012 2:22:56 PM , Rating: 2
I am well aware that Micron technically had nothing to do with MPC. What I'm saying was that Micron got state institutions sold on their PCs, and then handed it off to MPC. Because of how state purchasing contracts work, you can't just buy any computer from anyone you want. I don't even think Dell was on the contract at the time. Many institutions just had to keep buying MPC until their demise. Micron put many businesses in unfortunate positions.

We do not have any Micron brand computers any more, those were done away with about four years ago, but we still have some MPC brand computers from the 2004-2006 era. Trying to get money for replacement computers is like pulling teeth in state government. I have no intentions of leaving IT because someone on the internet thinks they are smarter then me. You're cute though.


RE: Sad..
By borismkv on 2/4/2012 9:18:38 PM , Rating: 3
MPC folded 3 years ago, but was extracted from Micron's holdings in 2001, in great part because Dell/HP made the PC industry more or less un-profitable. If you're still dealing with PCs from the time when they *were* Micron, you need to get those clients away from those computers pronto. 11 year old PCs are not a good thing to run a business on.


Sad, yes. But tragic?
By BZDTemp on 2/4/2012 6:56:50 AM , Rating: 5
The guy was flying a stunt plane for fun presumably doing his favorite thing so he died doing what he loved - how can that be tragic.

Falling down the stairs, chocking on something, getting hit by a car... those things are tragic. What happened here was the result of enjoying life to the max taking calculated risks doing so.




RE: Sad, yes. But tragic?
By xti on 2/4/12, Rating: -1
RE: Sad, yes. But tragic?
By BZDTemp on 2/4/2012 2:57:54 PM , Rating: 2
Explain, please.


RE: Sad, yes. But tragic?
By johnsonx on 2/5/2012 1:40:56 AM , Rating: 2
He just means that if, on the day Steve Appleton first took up flying, an Angel came down and said "Steve, if you become a pilot, then after many years of flying you're going to crash and die in Feb 2012", he's betting that Steve Appleton would have said "hey, that's great, I get to fly until 2012? sign me up.".

Yes, of course it's always tragic when anyone dies before reaching a ripe old age, but going out this way isn't so bad for a guy like that.


RE: Sad, yes. But tragic?
By BZDTemp on 2/5/2012 8:48:53 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly only I also think the word "Tragic" does not apply. As my headline says I think it's sad when someone dies and when it's someone that touched a lot of lives in a good way then it's very sad but that is not the debate here.

If I happen to check out while having a bad crash doing one of the sports I love then so be it. It's a risk I'm aware of and doing those sports is impossible without taking certain risks and in fact walking a thin line is in some sense part of it. I don't want people I care for to label a possible deadly sporting event as tragic I want them to see it as a part of my life choices - tragic is dying having lived a life that was less than it should have been.


RE: Sad, yes. But tragic?
By johnsonx on 2/6/2012 2:52:39 AM , Rating: 2
ok, fine, when you die I promise not to call it tragic. :p


RE: Sad, yes. But tragic?
By Natch on 2/6/2012 9:41:25 AM , Rating: 2
Seriously, though.....is there any such thing as a NON-tragic plane crash that kills someone??


RE: Sad, yes. But tragic?
By kattanna on 2/6/2012 1:22:13 PM , Rating: 3
hmmm.. depends.

now if a 747 fully loaded with nothing but members of the US congress went down.. just how many tears would there be? and i dont mean tears of joy..


RE: Sad, yes. But tragic?
By BZDTemp on 2/6/2012 4:34:03 PM , Rating: 2
You're thinking of planes as transports with passengers and crew. A stunt plane is a toy.


Coincidence
By drlumen on 2/3/12, Rating: 0
RE: Coincidence
By GulWestfale on 2/3/2012 9:21:54 PM , Rating: 2
let's hope so.

and on another note: why did he choose an experimental, he surely could have afforded a safer, proven design?

in any case, RIP.


RE: Coincidence
By johnsonx on 2/4/2012 2:44:28 AM , Rating: 3
"Expiremental aircraft" doesn't usually really mean experimental in the way most people understand the term. It just means the aircraft assembly was completed no more than 49% by the aircraft factory - the remaining 51% of the assembly was done post-delivery by someone else (theoretically the owner, but he can hire aviation mechanics to do a lot of the work). Aircraft such as this fly with an Expiremental-category airworthiness certificate, but that doesn't make it an expiremental aircraft.


RE: Coincidence
By Dorkyman on 2/4/2012 3:00:17 PM , Rating: 2
That's right; there are lots of reasons to buy and build a kitplane besides saving money. In fact, often one doesn't save money at all. You can easily spend $200k on a kitplane.

Factors such as remarkable performance, unique utility, and the pride of "doing it yourself" come into play. For example, I built my PC just to learn how to do it.


Steve was not your typical CEO
By gemsurf on 2/4/2012 8:01:42 AM , Rating: 4
Steve started working for Micron in 1983 on the production floor right out of college with his business degree. I worked with him briefly two years later (he was my supervisor) in Fab 2 at Micron. He was a very capable hard charger, hard worker, and a genuinely nice guy. He rose through the ranks to CEO based on his own performance and abilities. No silver spoons involved. He remained that same regular type guy till yesterday. This is a huge loss for his Family, Friends, Micron, Boise, Boise State University and all of Idaho.

He loved flying and owned probably 50 different planes over the years. He was an active aerobatic pilot and preformed passionately at many airshows on his time off. In fact the last time I saw and spoke with him was at an Air Show about 6-7 years ago. He was still the same Steve I knew in 1985, and staying that way was very important to him. He was well respected not for his title but for who he was. Great Guy! RIP!




NOOOOOOOO
By FaceMaster on 2/5/12, Rating: 0
"Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?... So why the f*** doesn't it do that?" -- Steve Jobs




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