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Duane W Dively


The pilot killed when his U-2 spy plane crashed while returning to its base in the United Arab Emirates was a veteran who could have retired in the past year, but stayed in the Air Force because he loved to fly, his brother said Thursday.

Major Duane W. Dively, 43, from the Sacramento area, was assigned to the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale Air Force Base in Marysville, the Pentagon said. He spent more than 20 years in the military and could have retired at the beginning of the year, his brother, David Dively, told The Associated Press.

“As tragic as this is, he believed in what we were doing in that part of the world and he loved what he was doing and he loved to fly,” Dively said by phone from his parent’s house in Hollidaysburg, Pa.

The cause of the crash in Southwest Asia is still under investigation, but Dively said he was told his brother was returning from a mission in support of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

The U-2 is a single-seat, single-engine reconnaissance plane that flies above 70,000 feet and beyond the range of most surface-to-air missiles.

With a bicycle-type landing gear and the challenges of handling the aircraft at low altitudes, the U-2 requires a high degree of precision during landing. An extended nose limits forward visibility and a “chase” pilot in a second plane helps direct it home.

“Obviously, he’s talked about that,” David Dively said. “I think that was part of the reason he liked flying that plane.”

Dively had been flying the U-2 for more than a decade and instructed others in flying the craft, his brother said. He began flying the U-2 after spending about five years piloting the AC-130 gunship.

Colonel Greg Kern, commander of the 9th Operations Group at Beale said Dively was one of its most experienced and respected pilots.

“The airmen of the 9th Operations Group and Team Beale grieve the loss of a family member,” Kern said.

After graduating from college, Dively joined the Marine Corps and spent more than four years in that branch of the service before joining the Air Force. While growing up in Canton, N.Y., he was an altar boy, played baseball, football and wrestled in high school. He also played piano, clarinet and guitar.

“He was a well-rounded, quiet, great demeanor guy,” David Dively said. “He was a very standup guy by all accounts.”

While stationed overseas, he kept in touch with his family through e-mail. His last contact home was a note he sent for Father’s Day.

He leaves a wife, Bethann, in California, his parents, William and Donata Dively, and his brother in Pine Bush, N.Y.

“At a certain point, there’s a loss you just don’t know what to say,” David Dively said.


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