Flags are flying at half-staff at Ellsworth Air Force Base in memory of 1st Lt. Martin Anthony Riggan, a B-1B Lancer pilot who died Wednesday in a private airplane crash in Colorado that also killed his wife, Nicole.

The single-engine airplane flown by Martin Riggan, 25, crashed about noon Wednesday at Colorado Springs Municipal Airport. Riggan was on instrument approach to the air strip for a landing in freezing fog when the accident occurred. He and his wife had flown from Rapid City to Colorado Springs on Wednesday morning to visit relatives.

Col. Jeffrey Taliaferro, 28th Bomb Wing Commander at Ellsworth Air Force Base, said Thursday that base personnel were grieving the loss.

"We are profoundly saddened by this tragic loss," Taliaferro said in a prepared statement. "Lt. Riggan will be deeply missed by his fellow airmen. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends at this incredibly difficult time."

Riggan had been stationed at Ellsworth since April. Taliaferro said flags will remain at half-staff until a memorial service can be held.

The couple moved to Rapid City from Colorado in April. Nicole Riggan, who had a degree in acting and secondary education theater from the University of Northern Colorado, joined the Black Hills Community Theater this fall.

Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board has been on the scene at the Colorado Springs airport, investigating the crash. Terry Williams, a spokesman for the NTSB in Washington, D.C., said Thursday that an investigator from the NTSB office in Denver had completed the initial phase of the investigation

The investigator examined the wreckage on site, and it is now being moved to storage, where it can be more thoroughly inspected, Williams said.

"We will look at the weather, the pilot's training and the aircraft itself and its maintenance, to make sure it was in good condition," Williams said. "We'll look at many factors to determine the probable cause of the accident."

The investigation could take nine months to a year before a probable cause is released, Williams said.

Contact Kevin Woster at 394-8413 or kevin.woster@rapidcityjournal.com


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