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Steve Appleton, CEO of Micron, Dies in Plane Crash

Micron, the memory chip making company, lost its chief executive and chairman on Friday morning when a small, experimental fixed-wing plane crashed. The plane was being piloted by Steve Appleton when it crashed at the Boise Airport, according to the company. Appleton was 51 years old and company spokesman Dan Francisco confirmed Appleton’s death. Appleton was a professional stunt plane pilot and former motocross racer. He was the only person in the plane when it crashed at the airport.

A reporter in 2006 asked Appleton about his thrill-seeking hobbies, noting, “you nearly killed yourself flying aerobatics in a plane.”

“The older you get, the more risk you should take,” Appleton told the reporter.

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“If I were to die tomorrow, I have no complaints,” he said to the reporter. “I’ve experienced more than anybody should expect in a lifetime.”

A statement was issued by the board of directors at Micron that said, “Steve’s passion and energy left an indelible mark on Micron, the Idaho community and the technology industry at large.”

The company manufactures DRAM, NAND and NOR flash memory chips.

Back in 1983, Appleton began work on the factory floor at Micron and started to work his way up the corporate ladder. He was then named president and chief operating officer in 1991. He was named chairman of the company in 1994 as well as chief executive officer and president. Appleton was named to his current position back in 2007. The company is headquartered in Boise and employs 20,000 people across the world. It is one of the largest employers in Idaho.

A spokeswoman for the airport, Patti Miller, said that the airplane was a fixed-wing single-engine Lancair. Dispatch for Ada County said that it received calls for a plane on fire before it landed. The airplane is constructed from kits and many others like it have characteristics in its design that allow it to fly faster than other small planes. The FAA issued a warning in 2010 to pilots, saying that these planes can stall when operating slowly near the ground.

The FAA also released an analysis report showing that these planes have a higher number of fatal accidents than other small planes, personal use planes, and other kinds of planes that are made from kits. This advisory was released after a Lancair plane killed a person jogging on the beach in South Carolina.

This is the second time Appleton was involved in a small plane crash. Back in 2004, on July 8, Appleton suffered a punctured lung, head injuries, a ruptured disk and broken bones. This happened when his plane crashed in the desert east of Boise. Questions previously had been raised as to whether the head of the company should be involved in such dangerous activities.

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