Pelham man dies in plane crash

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Pelham resident Jerry Shelton Hoggatt, 73, died Dec. 16 after the plane he was riding in crashed in the Colorado mountains.

Jerry Hoggatt

The crash happened at about 4 p.m. on Dec. 15 when a Beech B-60 airplane piloted by Brownwood, Texas, resident Barton Harris crashed into a snow-covered mountain about 5 miles north-northwest of Edwards, Colo., according to a report released by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Hoggatt was riding as a passenger in the plane when it crashed. Hoggatt and Harris were the only ones in the plane, and both died in the incident.

Although Hoggatt was a certified pilot, he was not in control of the aircraft when it crashed, according to the report.

The flight departed from Pueblo, Colo., and was en route to the Eagle County Regional Airport in Eagle, Colo.

Shortly before the crash, the Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center had cleared the flight to begin its approach to the regional airport, according to the report.

However, Harris never made radio contact with the airport’s tower.

The plane impacted a 20- to 30-degree slope about 10,600 feet above sea level, and the temperature was about 34 degrees when the crash happened, according to the report. The wind was blowing at about 9.2 miles per hour.

Hoggatt, a New Orleans native, was a member of the Shelby County Aviation Association, the Birmingham Ski Club, the Airplanes Owners and Pilots Association, the board of directors of the Southern Museum of Flight and was the treasurer of the Birmingham Aeroclub.

“I don’t think anyone who knew him had anything bad to say about him,” said Johnny Ward, a pilot at the Shelby County Airport. “He brought his plane up from New Orleans right before Katrina, just to keep it from getting damaged. And then he and his family moved up here shortly after that.

“He was really active here, at the Southern Museum of Flight and the Birmingham Aeroclub,” Ward added.

Local pilots will host a memorial service at the Shelby County Airport for Hoggatt on Jan. 8 from 2-4 p.m. at the airport terminal.

His funeral was held Dec. 28 at 1 p.m. at the Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home in Metairie, La. Visitation began at 11 a.m. at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, family is requesting donations be made to the Southern Museum of Flight at 4343 73rd St. N., Birmingham, AL, 35206.