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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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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!




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