Utah educator and businessman Wayne S. Brown wanted to make a visit with a son in New Mexico nicer by flying his family to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. But on the way back Tuesday, Brown's small plane ran into high winds and rain, crashed, and killed all five people on board.
Friends say Brown - a former University of Utah dean of engineering and founder of several Utah companies - was one of the world's best-known experts on how to move new technology to the marketplace. He was even planning an international symposium on the subject in Australia later this year.New Mexico state police said those killed in the plane crash with Brown, 60, were his wife, Joyce, 58; their son, Gary, 31; his wife, Melissa, 26; and their daughter, Lindsey, 2. Brown and his wife were from Salt Lake City. Their son, who was an engineer at Sandia National Laboratories, was living in Albuquerque.
Brown's Cessna P-210 airplane was attempting to land at the small, private Coronado Airport in Albuquerque about 5 p.m., state police said. It aborted the first attempt and was coming in for a second try when it crashed.
A student pilot who witnessed the crash said the aircraft's engine appeared to stall moments before it plunged nose first into the ground. "All I saw was a puff of smoke," said Walter Ramazzini Jr., 17, who was sitting about 100 yards from the ditch where the plane crashed on the outskirts of Albuquerque.
Ramazzini said the plane also appeared to have been tossed from side-to-side by a gust of wind, and the pilot may have overcorrected before it crashed and cartwheeled over. Witnesses quickly reached the plane, but found no survivors.
Sue West, a friend of the Brown family, said the crash was the tragic end of a family vacation that Brown and his wife had looked forward to.
"They were just on vacation. They planned to go see their son, daughter-in-law and their baby," she said. "They had all flown down together to Carlsbad Caverns, and were on their way back to drop off their son and his family when they crashed."
West said Brown had been a pilot for about 10 years "and was very careful."
Brown was a longtime professor at the U., was dean of its College of Engineering from 1973 to 1978 and was once chairman of the mechanical engineering department.
He always relished his title of professor. He once said, "I always felt that the most prestigious title the U. ever gave me was `professor' and I . . . would like to spend more time in professorial activities."
His research specialities were dental engineering - where he investigated stresses in teeth resulting from dental drilling or drinking hot or cold liquids - and rock mechanics, where he studied rock properties under high pressures that would be encountered in underground nuclear explosions to stimulate gas fields or to develop geothermal power sources.
Brown, a Provo native, was a founder and president of Utah Innovation Center Inc., a program established through the National Science Foundation to move technical innovations into the marketplace.
He was also a founder and director of the separate Utah Innovation Foundation, which set up international symposiums on marketing technology.
That foundation's chairman, William B. Smart, said, "Wayne traveled worldwide to consult on how to set up innovation centers, and how to move technology to the marketplace. He was known worldwide, and is probably the most recognized innovator."
Smart said Brown was also helping organize an international symposium on technology innovation in Australia in September, and said Brown was instrumental in helping to organize the Utah Technology Finance Corp.
Brown was also co-founder of Kenway Inc., a supplier of automated material handling, storage and retrieval systems. In 1978 it merged with Cleveland-based Eaton Corp. and became Eaton-Kenway. Brown also helped start two other firms, Native Plants and Terra Tek, a diversified geoscience company.
Brown had also served as a member of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce's board of governors, and was elected a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical engineers - a society reserved for engineers with significant accomplishments.
West said Brown is survived by four children - Don, of Palo Alto, Calif.; and daughters Karen Brewster, Janet Sorensen and Diane Whittaker, all of the Salt Lake area. Brown also had eight granchildren.
Brown received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Utah, his master's degree from the University of Tennessee and his doctorate from Stanford.