Nation & World

Pilot in Alaska plane crash had Iowa ties

Kyle Longerbeam, 25, graduated from Fairfield High School, worked in Cedar Rapids

Kyle Longerbeam, 25, of Port Alsworth, Alaska, died Wednesday when the plane he was piloting crashed into Lake Clark in Alaska. Longerbeam is a 2009 graduate of Fairfield High School, who worked for two years in Cedar Rapids before moving to Alaska. (Photo Courtesy James “J.J.” Longerbeam)
Kyle Longerbeam, 25, of Port Alsworth, Alaska, died Wednesday when the plane he was piloting crashed into Lake Clark in Alaska. Longerbeam is a 2009 graduate of Fairfield High School, who worked for two years in Cedar Rapids before moving to Alaska. (Photo Courtesy James “J.J.” Longerbeam)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A pilot who is presumed dead in a crash in Alaska had strong Iowa ties and was a hard worker and adventure seeker, his brother said.

“Kyle was extremely independent, hardworking, humble and lived every day to its fullest,” said James “J.J.” Longerbeam, brother of Kyle Longerbeam.

According to news reports, Kyle Longerbeam, 25, was the pilot of a plane that went missing last Wednesday en route to Anchorage, Alaska, from Port Alsworth, Alaska. The plane — that was carrying three other Port Alsworth residents — is believed to have crashed into Lake Clark. The bodies of Longerbeam and his three passengers — Scott Blom, 45, and his children Zach Blom, 13, and Kaitlyn Blom, 14 — have not been recovered, his brother said. All four are presumed dead.

Kyle Longerbeam was a 2009 graduate of Fairfield High School and moved to Cedar Rapids to work for his brother at D.C. Taylor Co., a commercial roofing contractor located at 312 29th St. NE. James Longerbeam is vice president and service manager at the company.

But, the wild of Alaska called to Kyle, his brother said. After two years of working in Cedar Rapids, Kyle got his taxidermy license and took a job in Alaska.

“He left everyone and everything in Iowa to pursue his dreams in Alaska,” Longerbeam said.

James Longerbeam said his brother was also a licensed pilot, owned a couple of planes, worked as a pilot and hunting guide and did other jobs, such as carpentry and concrete work. He bought three acres of land in Port Alsworth and built a cabin there, Longerbeam said.

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“He’s done more in his 25 years than a lot of us will do in a lifetime,” he said.

In addition to being regarded for his work ethic, Longerbeam said Kyle was the kind of guy who could brighten someone’s day when things weren’t going well.

“He just made the world a different place,” Longerbeam said.

Longerbeam said he last saw his brother this summer at a family get together. No one in the family knew Kyle was coming home, but he surprised them during breakfast at Hy-Vee, Longerbeam recalls.

“My two sons and I ... were just ecstatic,” he said.

According to his obituary, Longerbeam loved hunting, fishing and trapping and was active at the Tanalian Bible Camp in Port Alsworth.

Aside from his brother, he is survived by his parents Terry and Carla Longerbeam of Fairfield; sister Jessica Anderson of Fairfield, his fiancé Abbey Wells of Port Alsworth and his beloved dog, Beamer.

James Longerbeam said his parents are going to Alaska for a memorial on Dec. 21. A celebration of life takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday in the Cambridge building located at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, 2606 W. Burlington Ave., Fairfield.

Behner Funeral Home & Crematory of Fairfield is handling local arrangements. Online condolences can be offered at behnerfh.com.

The investigation into the plane crash has not been completed. James Longerbeam said he has been told that investigation could take up to a year.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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