Crashed plane owner had local connections
Posted by : December 19, 2012| On :
Monitor Staff Writer
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–The owner and pilot of the downed plane in the fiery crash Monday near Rosser was a founding board member of the Cedar Creek Veterans Foundation.
Noell Rather, 77, flew his MiG 17F in the July Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake air show in July with Pinnacle Club resident Randy Ball, who also flies the MiG 17F.
It was his L-29 Delfin, a trainer aircraft for the MiGs, that went down, killing Rather and Floyd Fisher, 30.
Investigators still don’t know what caused the crash near the Trinity River outside of Rosser.
Rather had completely restored the L-29 in 2000, and it was considered the most extensively restored aircraft of its type flying in the United States.
Rather was also a featured guest during last year’s charitable golf tournament, raising funds for veterans.
Golf tourney organizer Gayle Robinson was shocked to hear of his death. “That’s two pilots we’ve from the air show we know that have died in plane crashes,” she said.
Robinson referred to the death of Glen Smith, who died while flying in an Iowa air show a couple of months ago.
She described Rather’s military service in detail.
Rather started flying T-28s and T-34s with the Air Force and flew the F-100 on assignments into Korea, out of Kadena, Okinawa. He was one of the first pilots, who became known as the River Rats, the first to strike against North Vietnam from the air.
During his one-year tour in the Vietnam War his squadron of F-105 aircraft had 24 planes shot down, 11 pilots became prisoners of war, five were killed. He told Robinson that his squadron commander Lt. Col. Robby Risner was shot down twice and that he was his wing man.
Afterwards Rather became an aviation instructor before his discharge from the Air Force, after 10 years.
He then flew for Braniff Airways for three years before starting a real estate and oil investment business.
He also flew his own restored military planes in air shows for charity.