One of two killed in Jacumba glider crash was decorated Navy pilot

Rick Noble was taking first glider lesson

SAN DIEGO - Family members of one of the victims who died in a glider crash in Jacumba spoke with 10News on Sunday about how they are remembering him.

63-year-old Richard Noble – called Rick by his family and friends – and 54-year-old Martin Rothwell died Saturday in a glider crash in Jacumba.

"My brother was my best friend," said Rick Noble's brother, Bob. For him and his family, the last few hours have been surreal.

He did not see the news Saturday about the glider crash but received a call from his 86-year-old mother Sunday morning. Rick Noble was her primary caregiver and he had not come home. It was not long after that he knew the horrible truth of what had happened.

"I immediately knew what might be the problem," said Noble. "He took a glider lesson yesterday and I Googled 'glider accident San Diego' and then I knew."

Rick Noble and his instructor, Rothwell, had taken off from the glider airport near Jacumba. After their plane released the glider, it went out of control and slammed into the ground. Both men were killed instantly.

But Bob Noble and his family are not focused on that now. Instead, they are remembering a brother, husband and friend who served his country for many years.

"He was a highly decorated naval aviator," said Bob Noble. "He was an A-6 pilot and commander of a squadron. He flew 28 missions in the first Gulf War and recently he's been a corporate pilot, but he loves flying."

Rick Noble served on the USS Midway for several years and flew the A-6 that is featured on the carrier's deck.

On 9/11, Rick Noble was in Spain and still in the service then. He appeared on a Spanish naval magazine cover with the prince of Spain. Spain raised the American flag on their soil while Noble was there, which is the first time that had ever been done.

"We're going to miss him terribly... terribly every day, but we have been so blessed to have him all of these years and he was my best friend," said Bob Noble.

Saturday's glider lesson was Rick Noble's first. His brother says after flying some of the fastest planes on earth, he was looking forward to taking up gliding.

"He was a very passionate person," said Bob Noble. "He loved flying. Our father was a pilot. I'm a pilot. We flew together and he was doing what he loved to do. Of course, he always did what he loved doing."

The FAA is investigating how this tragedy happened.

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