Russ Francis and Richard McSpadden Obituary
In a devastating turn of events, Russ Francis, former NFL tight end and recent owner of Lake Placid Airways, and Richard McSpadden, Senior Vice President of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), were confirmed as the two casualties in a plane crash that occurred at Lake Placid Airport on Sunday afternoon.
The tragic accident unfolded at 4:09 pm near the North Elba Athletic Fields, situated at the end of a runway. Multiple agencies, including emergency services from Lake Placid, the New York State Police, Saranac Lake Volunteer Rescue Squad, and forest rangers from the State Department of Environmental Conservation, rushed to the scene.
Francis, who was 70 years old at the time of his death, had a lifelong passion for flying. The aircraft involved was a 1976 single-engine Cessna 177.
A statement from AOPA confirmed Richard McSpadden’s passing: “It is with deep sorrow that we announce the untimely death of Richard McSpadden in a plane accident near Lake Placid, New York. Following an emergency right after takeoff, the Cessna 177 Cardinal, with Richard in the co-pilot seat, attempted to circle back to the airport but tragically fell short of the runway. Both individuals on board lost their lives.”
“Richard’s impressive credentials included a stint as the commander of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and he was a beloved colleague, friend, husband, father, and son,” the statement continued.
Richard McSpadden is survived by his wife Judy, his son Grant, and his daughter Annabel.
“Our hearts go out to Richard’s family during this immensely difficult period,” AOPA added.