CAMERON PARK (CBS13) — A third-generation Air Force captain died in a plane crash in Nevada County Tuesday.
Family members say the young pilot had a bright future. Ron Hooper was just 30-years-old.
"I know he's going to be missed," Hooper's brother-in-law David Williams said.
The single-engine Piper PA-38 Hooper was flying went down about a mile and a half outside the Nevada County Airport in Grass Valley Tuesday afternoon. The Federal Aviation Administration says Hooper reported engine problems before crashing into trees. He later died at the Sutter hospital in Roseville.
Williams dropped Hooper off at the airport right before he took off.
"When I dropped him off at the airport I said, 'Hey man see you later, have a safe flight,'" Williams said.
Hooper was getting in practice hours, training to become a commercial pilot. Ron, his sister Victoria and David all served at Travis Air Force Base together. He started flying helicopters for the Navy and transitioned to the Air Force Reserve.
"That was his passion, he loved everything to do with flying," said Williams.
Aviation was in his blood, his father, and grandfather served in the Air Force as well. Williams says his family and his community will miss Ron's calm energy and positive nature. They say he was a true leader on the ground and in the air.
"To see someone like that taken so drastically is terrible, but if people can emulate that nature, we'd all be better off," said Williams.
Both the FAA and NTSB are investigating the crash.
Travis Air Force Base released the following statement about Hooper Wednesday:
"The 349th Air Mobility Wing is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Capt. Ronald W. Hooper. Capt. Hooper was a highly respected and valued Air Force officer, wingman and friend. Our heartfelt condolences and prayers go out to his family, friends and all members of our wing."
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