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Miller Lundy Wilder's Final Glide

Out of school for the summer, Wilder moved from Cordova, near Memphis to New River, Ariz., two weeks ago, planning to teach flying for a month or two.

The Associated Press quoted Peoria police Lt. Scott Lekan as saying the plane had been towing a glider from the Turf Soaring School when it went straight up in the air, then fell nose first and crashed at the end of the school's runway.

Miller's aunt, Cary Slatery of Knoxville, said the family had been told that the glider detached right after take-off, causing Miller's plane to nose-dive into the end of the runway.

Wilder, who would have been 25 on June 30, enrolled at UTSI in the spring of 2003 as a candidate for a master's degree in Aviation Systems. Son of Harrison Wilder Jr. and Lundy P. Wilder of Cordova, he graduated from Cordova High School in May 1997.

He received a bachelor's degree in geography from UT Knoxville on May 11, 2002, having also attended Tennessee Tech in Cookeville for semester in 1997.

His major professor, Dr. Ralph D. Kimberlin, said "We in the Aviation Systems Program at the Space Institute are saddened to learn of the untimely death of Miller Wilder. He held a Commercial Pilots Certificate for Airplanes and Sailplanes and was acting as a tow pilot for sailplanes when he was killed.

Miller was nearing completion of his master's degree in aviation systems. He had taken the summer off from his studies to work as a sailplane tow pilot and instructor pilot in Arizona where he was killed.

The faculty, staff and students of the Aviation Systems Program offer our condolences to his family in Memphis and to his many friends. We will miss his ready smile, friendly demeanor, and contributions that he made to the Space Institute, the Aviation Systems Program, and our student Soaring and Flying Clubs.

Betsy Harbin, Aviation Systems administrative specialist, said she recived a postcard today that Miller had mailed eirlier saying that he "was having a great time, doing the glider thing."

Dr. John E. Caruthers, UTSI's chief operating officer, expressed "deepest sympathy" to the family, saying: " We at the Space Institute are devasted by this tragedy. Miller was a bright young man whose smile warmed our campus. He will be greatly missed."

A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. June 19 in the Hope Chapel at Hope Presbyterian Church, 8500 Walnut Grove Road, Cordova. Since there will not be a graveside service, the family suggeted in lieu of flowers that donations be made to Urban Ministries in care of Hope Presbyterian Church. Relatives said Miller had wanted all of his usable organs donated.

Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were expected to look into the crash, the police chief said.

Posted: 8/1/2004

Final Glide 

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