Air Force veteran and a former NFL star killed in NY plane crash
masslive.com October 2, 2023
(Tribune News Service) — Russ Francis, who played a total of eight seasons with the New England Patriots, died Sunday in a plane crash outside of Lake Placid, N.Y., the team confirmed Monday.
The 70-year-old Francis was a passenger on an aircraft that was piloted by Richard McSpadden, a former commander in the Air Force, according to the Lake Placid News. The outlet reports that the crash occurred around 4:09 p.m. on Sunday at the end of a runway at the Lake Placid Airport.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Associated (AOPA) said in a statement that McSpadden was in the pilot’s seat when the aircraft “experienced an emergency after takeoff.”
“The airplane attempted to return to the airport but failed to make the runway. Both occupants lost their lives,” the AOPA wrote.
The AOPA, of which McSpadden was a senior vice president, described McSpadden as “a very accomplished pilot.”
Francis was the president of the scenic tour company Lake Placid Airways, which he recently purchased. The company noted that Francis has been a pilot himself for 49 years, has owned an air charter company in Hawaii and also “owned and piloted his P-51 Mustang and Hawker Sea Fury British fighter.”
Francis was drafted by the Patriots in the first round of the 1975 NFL Draft out of Oregon. Francis placed his first six seasons in New England before going on to join the San Francisco 49ers. Francis went on to win a championship in Super Bowl XIX during his time in San Francisco.
The former tight end finished his NFL career with a three-year stint back in New England. He was a three-time Pro Bowler and a two-time second-team All-Pro selection. Francis finished his career with 393 receptions for 5,262 tards and 40 touchdowns. He remains third in Patriots history in touchdowns and receiving yards among tight ends, trailing only Rob Gronkowski and Ben Coates.
©2023 Advance Local Media LLC.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.