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Colorado Crash Was Suicide, Air Force Says Report Says Pilot Made No Advance Plans, Left No Note

Sat., Oct. 25, 1997, midnight

The Air Force will issue a report next week that concludes, largely by process of elimination, that the pilot who flew his A-10 Thunderbolt 800 miles off course on April 2 and crashed into a mountain in Colorado had made a sudden decision to commit suicide, a senior officer confirmed Friday.

The Air Force’s conclusion was first reported Friday night by ABC News and NBC News.

The Air Force spent most of the summer searching around New York Mountain, near Vail, and have been looking into the background of the pilot, Capt. Craig Button, of Massapequa, N.Y.

“Most everything they looked at was inconclusive,” said the officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the report has not yet been released. “There was a determination that there was no premeditated suicide,” said the officer, who added that there was no suicide note or effort by Button to put his affairs in order.

Investigators also reviewed telephone records, the officer said.

“There was no apparent medical problem with him, no pre-existing condition or something that went wrong, like hypoxia or heart failure, and no mechanical problems with the aircraft,” he said.

“We do know that he had positive control of the aircraft and that he had made some passes at some airfields,” the officer said. “The best we can come up with is that he did commit suicide, but it was more unpremeditated or spontaneous.

“He was up there and decided to do it while he was up there.”

Button was 32 and had been an Air Force pilot for five years.

The report is scheduled to be issued by the Air Combat Command next week.

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