August 3, 2018, Roche Harbor, Washington.
David King, a long-time resident of San Juan Island, died yesterday in a plane crash near the Lopez Island Airport. There were two highly-experienced pilots on board the single-engine plane, but no survivors. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash, but San Juan County Prosecutor Randy Gaylord, who also acts as the County Coroner, told the family this morning that the crash appeared to be accidental.
David King was born May 2, 1942, in Los Angeles, and was raised in Laguna Beach, California. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn New York, in 1964. He worked as an engineer for a variety of companies, including TRW, Applied Technologies, and Northrup Grumman, where he retired in 2007. His specialty was electronic warfare and electromagnetic spectrum technologies.
On a driving trip across Canada in 1964, he heard about the San Juan Islands, and took a ferry to visit. He visited almost every year until 2007, when he retired to live full-time on San Juan Island, first in Friday Harbor, then on Davison Head, north of Roche Harbor.
From 2007 until 2010, he worked on the Orca Hydrophone Project, which allows visitors to Lime Kiln State Park to hear sealife while still on-shore. David designed the software for the project, but also helped pour concrete and set up the equipment to hear the whales.
David was almost painfully shy and quiet, but once he was comfortable, he displayed a warm humor, quick wit, and an easy laugh. He was very active in leading local organizations, including being the President of Bay Area Chapter of the “Old Crows,” an organization of electronic warfare veterans, the Treasurer of the San Juan Pilots Association, the San Juan Yacht Club, and the Roche Harbor Neighborhood Association, a civic charity on the northern end of San Juan Island. He was an avid photographer, and an active member of the Friday Walkers hiking group on San Juan Island. He earned an “extra” amateur radio (ham radio) certificate and was active in the local ham radio organization. He was recently learning to make his own gourmet pizzas.
He learned to fly in 1964 and became instrument rated in 1970. His plane, which crashed on Lopez Island, was a Mooney M20J. He and his cousin Martha Ford once flew from Los Angeles to Goose Bay, Labrador, and he and his wife Helen often flew around the United States.
He is survived by his wife Helen King, his cousin Martha Ford of Carlsbad, California, and her sons David, Tim, and Keith Ford, and several other family members.
A Celebration of Life is being scheduled for September in Friday Harbor. The King family wishes to thank the emergency responders and volunteers from Lopez Island and the San Juan Sheriff’s Office for their help.