To hear his sister tell it, David Michaud had two great loves: police work and flying.
“Everyone loved my brother, everyone,” Cheryl Keyes of Burlington, Vt., said Monday. “He was good to everyone. He spent his whole life flying. He loved flying. He could not get enough of it.”
And though he lived in California, the Millinocket native and member of Stearns High School’s Class of 1974 would fly in to visit his mother and friends and to attend school reunions, Keyes said.
The 53-year-old Michaud died Saturday when his 1966 single-engine Mooney M20E nosed into the ground and burst into flames after 9 a.m. just west of the Rio Linda Airport of Sacramento. He and a friend, a mechanic, were test-flying the airplane when it crashed, said Virginia Schmolke, a Millinocket woman who is close to Michaud’s mother, Marge Michaud of Millinocket.
“She is handling it as well as it could be expected. It was a tremendous shock to her,” Schmolke said Monday. “They were tremendously close. He had just been here last fall and he would come and fly here, spend a few days here with her once or twice a year. He would telephone a lot too. They were in frequent contact.
“He was very nice, very kind. Just a wonderful gentleman. You knew he loved his mom,” added Schmolke, who met Michaud when he visited his family and friends in Millinocket.
Schmolke and Keyes described Michaud as an international pilot who flew for a private air service out of Las Vegas that ferried passengers for the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino. He got the job recently, his sister said.
Michaud earned his pilot’s license in Millinocket at age 16 and later moved to go to California, Schmolke said.
Michaud is predeceased by his father, Paul, who died eight years ago, she said.
Sacramento County Sheriff’s Capt. Scott Jones said Michaud was a reserve deputy who pursued his passion for flying after serving 12 years as a full-time deputy.
His body was burned beyond recognition in the crash.
Sheriff John McGinness, who years ago patrolled with Michaud, said Michaud had extensive family ties to the law enforcement agency. The agency said his wife is a detective, his son is a deputy sheriff and his stepson works in the records department.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.