MEEKER, Colo. — Police identified William Ray Hiler, 62, of Tabernacle, Colorado, as the pilot of a small plane that crashed in a remote area of northwestern Colorado on Thursday.

The Rio Blanco County Sheriff's Office said Monday that Hiler was earlier seen fueling his plane in Provo and that officials belive no one was with him when he left the airport on his way to Grandby, Colorado.

Hiler was an avid pilot and longtime ski and snowboard instructor who came to Utah to teach in the winters, according to friend Jason Arnold.

"He was just a great human being," Arnold said.

Hiler was returning from a trip to Reno, Nevada, when his single-engine Bonanza 35 disappeared from air traffic control radar, according to Arnold.

The crash happened in a remote area of Colorado about 15 miles west of Meeker, according to police. Investigators said a witness reported seeing a plane banking at high altitude and hearing an explosion Thursday evening.

Arnold said Hiler rebuilt his plane himself and equipped it to fly at high altitudes.

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Hiler was also a first counselor in the Granby LDS branch presidency, according to Arnold.

"He gave more for more people with no expectance of anything ever in return," Arnold said.

His birthday, Arnold added, was last week.

— Daphne Chen