WINCHESTER, N.H. — A man who died after crashing his plane last week was part of a family known for spending time in the air.
John E. Everson, 65, of Danielson, Conn., was flying a stunt plane that went down on Scotland Road in Winchester on Thursday. His cousin believes the crash might have involved mechanical failure with the plane.
"I'm named after our grandfather Kirke B. Everson, who's my mother's father so also John's grandfather," said Kirke McVay. "John's father was Kirke D. Everson Jr. He was Rhode Island's first, if not only, World War II ace pilot — supposedly the first person to ever shoot down a jet in World War II. That was according to my younger brother."
McVay's younger brother, also a pilot, was closer to Everson. McVay said he spent more time with his cousin as a child. They were very close in age.
McVay said Everson's father was also a champion in New England glider competitions.
"He came from a family of experienced fliers so we were pretty surprised," McVay said of the crash. "We're kind of assuming there must have been a mechanical failure with the plane."
Federal Aviation Administration Spokesman Jim Peters said Everson was flying an Extra 300 when he crashed in Winchester. The aircraft is described on websites as a two-seat aerobatic monoplane.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash. While the FAA will help in the process, the NTSB will determine a probable cause.
"Our goal is to have a preliminary report out for each fatal accident within two weeks," said Peter Knudson, NTSB spokesman.
He expects a report could come at the end of this week but said it's more likely going to be ready by next week.
Everson's attendance had been anticipated at the Green Mountain Aerobatic Contest in Springfield, Vt.
"We believe [Everson] was in route to our contest Thursday," said Farrell Woods, president of New England Aerobatics Club, a chapter of the International Aerobatic Club. "Our event is rather popular but we were challenged by weather and pilots' ability to arrive this weekend."
About 22 or 23 registered pilots came to the contest. But usually a few more attend, Woods said.
"Many of the pilots didn't arrive until Saturday when the weather finally broke," he said.
Everson had been competing in the Green Mountain Aerobatic Contest for 12 years and came in first place in one contest during last year's event.
Woods said he did not know Everson that well personally, but the two would meet at contests and organized practice session.
"He was an accomplished pilot of powered airplanes and gliders," Woods said. "He was soft-spoken, wise, friendly, happy to share his experiences and an asset to our club. His premature loss was a shock to us."
Everson had been the president of Narragansett Improvement Company, a Rhode Island contractor and asphalt plant operator. The company was incorporated in 1893 by sewer contractors Edward and John A. Everson in an effort to get into the emerging industry of asphalt paving. Everson and McVay's grandfather joined the company in 1920 after graduating from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and serving as a captain of infantry in World War I, according to the company's website.
Everson became president of the company after his grandfather and his grandfather's son, Kirke Jr., had served in the position. Kirke Jr. had been in the United States Air Force for 10 years, according to the company's website.
"In 1970 John E. Everson became the fourth generation family member to join the Narragansett Improvement Company team," the website stated. "He was elected President in 1992 and has overseen and directed the continued growth and modernization of the manufacturing plant during his tenure."
McVay said he expects Everson's son Dustin will take over as president of the company. Dustin "spearheaded the company's retrofit into the recycling of bituminous asphalt products," according to the website.
McVay had never gone out in a plane with his cousin.
"I did go flying with his father in a glider one time. That was an interesting experience, getting towed up into the air then circling around and trying to catch thermals," McVay said, referring to rising hot air that pilots operating motor-less aircraft rely on. "It was exciting. It was different. I had a slight problem with motion sickness at the same time but I was OK. It's like an enclosed go-kart."
Reach staff writer Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or @CMaysBR.