Oliver Gene “Zip” Franklin was an old time pilot. He was known around Lea County for having done just about anything one could do with an aircraft. He was born August 8, 1919 in Artesia and died September 11, 1991 doing what he loved, flying. An airport in Lea County was named for Zip Franklin,
Plane Crashes in Ruidoso, Killing 2
Two men were killed and a third critically injured in the crash of a twin engine Aerostar shortly after take off from the Sierra Blanca Regional Airport in Ruidoso.
The dead men were identified as Gary McMillan of Lubbock, Texas, and Zip Franklin, 72, of Lovington, said Lanny Maddox, criminal investigation division commander for the Ruidoso Police Department.
The injured man was identified as Beldon Walden, 46, of Hobbs.
Maddox said the pilot was en route to Reno, Nev., on Wednesday where the custom aerobatic plane was to be delivered to an air show.
The plane crashed shortly before noon in a wooded area northwest of the airport.
Witnesses say the plane burned.
Maddox said McMillan and Franklin appeared to have been killed upon impact, and Walden was thrown from the airplane when it hit.
The injured man was listed in critical but stable condition this morning at Eastern New Mexico Medical Center South in Roswell after being transferred from Lincoln County Medical Center, said Rick Levitt, nursing supervisor at Eastern.
Federal Aviation Administration investigators were on their way to the crash site.
[Clovis News Journal, 12 Sep 1991. Clovis, New Mexico.]