FORT BRAGG -- An Army pilot so skilled he could fly eight types of aircraft was remembered today by fellow members of the Golden Knights parachute exhibition team. Chief Warrant Officer Lowell Timmons, 45, died last week when the UV-20 single-engine turboprop he was flying near Tucson, Ariz., collided with a civilian skydiving plane. No one else was killed.
About 300 people attended the service today at the main chapel at Fort Bragg, home of the Golden Knights and the Army's 18th Airborne Corps.
At the front of the gathering, Timmons' dog tags and flight helmet hung on the butt of a M-16 rifle mounted vertically. On the floor beside it the rifle was a pair of empty jump boots. The display was backed by crossed United States and Golden Knights flags.
The demonstration team's commanding officer, Lt. Col. David Liwang, said while some Americans find it difficult to learn to drive a stick-shift automobile, Timmons was proficient flying everything from helicopters to cargo planes. His 6,000 hours of flight experience was equivalent to flying nonstop for nearly nine months, Liwang said.
"It's been my honor and my pleasure to serve with him," Maj. Trey Kelly, commander of the parachute team's pilots and crew members, said before stepping back from the podium and saluting.
Chief Warrant Officer Ken Breeden, a fellow pilot, knew Timmons when they served together in Korea before joining the Golden Knights. Breeden said Timmons had a knack for instantly earning the respect of fellow fliers and parachute troops.
Timmons was due for a promotion within a few months to become the aviator in charge of polishing the training of the team's instructor pilots, said Sgt. 1st Class Ken Kassens, a Golden Knights spokesman.
The Army's Aviation Safety Center and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of last week's fatal crash.
Four Golden Knights had made a practice jump shortly before the collision with a Cessna 182 carrying four civilian skydivers. The four civilians aboard the Cessna jumped afterward.
Timmons, a 16-year veteran born in Fort Wayne, Ind., had served in Somalia, Turkey, Hungary, Bosnia, Germany and Korea. He is survived by his wife, Teresa, three daughters and three brothers.
His funeral will be held Saturday at Richmond Hill, Ga., near Savannah.