For those of you who have not yet heard the tragic news, Tyler Francis, died last Monday in the crash of his just purchased experimental RV-3 single seat aerobatic plane. He had just taken off from Las Cruces Airport when his engine failed.
Tyler (L) was an early supporter of the FASF and immediately chipped in to help support the Foundation’s cause when given the chance. His firm is pictured on our “LOCAL BUSINESS SUPPORTERS” page.
Tyler, who was CEO and owner of FRANCIS AVIATION at the Santa Teresa Jetport, was 29. He leaves his wife, Sara, and his unborn daughter, Tyler (whom Sara had just decided should carry her father’s name), behind as well as his parents, Rick and Ginger Francis, and his sister, Lauren.
Tyler was a fifth generation El Pasoan, whose grandfather, Larry Francis was once Mayor of El Paso. He purchased Francis Aviation from another former El Paso Mayor, Susie Azar (Tyler was recently pictured with Susie, who is also a FASF member, on the right).
He recently reorganized his Francis Aviation operations at Santa Teresa Jetport, removing the Flight Training operation in order to enhance profitability, and had just opened up a new aviation gas and refueling operation at Las Cruces Airport, where he met his untimely death. Tyler had also just won the fueling concession at New Mexico’s new Spaceport America, several miles North of Las Cruces. Tyler said, “Once Virgin Galactic starts (Public Space Flight) operations, we will be fueling the White Knight (Mother Ship) with jet fuel.”
At services in El Paso on Saturday, November 29th, his wife gave the opening Eulogy to a standing room only audience of friends and family at the Church of Saint Clement. The young Mrs. Francis received a long and enthusiastic applause when she described how Tyler quickly lit up any room he entered. Both his sense of humor and enthusiasm for life were also honored when Sara’s father, Tyler’s Father-in-Law, John Paben, next took the pulpit to praise Tyler and his inspiringly infectious positive spirit. Mr. Paben described how his wife, Nancy, had met Tyler first and then made sure their daughter, Sara, met him next. When Sara moved to her new job in Kansas, Tyler quickly flew there, located her, persuaded her to return to El Paso and then proposed. Soon thereafter they were married. Tyler’s sister, Lauren, also shared some of her own memorable experiences with her brother.
At only 29, Tyler had already accomplished many unusual achievements, from climbing Mt. Everest past the advanced base camp, to regularly parachuting for sport. When only in High School he had made a good living flipping houses in his home town. As a young man, Tyler was an avid Boy and Eagle Scout, and loved to fly radio controlled airplanes. He purchased his first full sized plane so he could commute back to El Paso, when working for his Master’s Degree at Texas Tech graduate school in Lubbock, Texas. Tyler was one of the finalists in the Texas State Debate Championships (2001) and was the Texas State Champion in the DECA Entrepreneurship category in 2001.
Bill Provance, the airport manager at the Doña Ana County International Jetport at Santa Teresa, said, in what may well be an understatement, Tyler’s death was a “huge loss for the aviation community in this area.” Along with our own FASF 1st Vice President, Col. John Orton, Tyler also served on the Board of the Doña Ana International Jetport. Additionally, Tyler sat on the Governing Boards of the War Eagles Air Museum; Amigo Airsho and the Boy Scouts of America Yucca Council. He was recently awarded membership in the Sons of the American Revolution and Society of Mayflower Descendants. Only the first of the month, Tyler and his firm had helped put on the first ever successful “Amigo Airsho” at the Doña Ana County International Jetport.
Tyler is survived by his wife, Sara; parents, Ginger and Rick Francis; In-laws Nancy and John Paben; Grandparents, Doris and Rollo Gurss, Marilyn and Larry Francis; Sister, Lauren (John) Steinmann, and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.
For those of us at the FASF who were privileged to know Tyler, we send our deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and friends. He will truly be missed, yet his enthusiasm for aviation and life, along with his exceptionally warm personality, have left their mark on all of us fortunate enough to have known and admired this extraordinary young man.