Father, husband, patriot

Widow describes man who died in airplane crash

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When Tina Kyprios first met the man she would marry, she listened to his last name and asked him about his nationality. He was wearing the uniform of a U.S. Army lieutenant, so she knew which country he was from. She was wondering about his Greek family heritage.

Greg Kyprios looked at her straight faced and said, "I'm an American."

The identities of two people killed in an airplane crash Saturday night have been released by the Routt County Coronor's office. Luis Marina and Greg Kyprios were from Steamboat Springs. The men were colleagues in KittyHawk Partners, a management consultant group for high-tech and aerospace leaders. Their clients included manufacturers of military and commercial aircraft engines and military and commercial aircraft designers. Kyprios was a managing partner and founder of KittyHawk, according to the company's Web site. Kyprios served in the U.S. Army in Europe and in the Persian Gulf with the 3rd Battalion 20th Field Artillery. He earned a master's degree from Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and a bachelor's degree from Duke University. He was an instrument-rated private pilot. Joe Birkinbine, the certified flight instructor who helped Kyprios obtain that rating, said Kyprios was "a very methodical pilot." "He was very by the book," Birk-inbine said. "He never cut any corners. He was an excellent pilot. "He was a personal friend, a very astute business owner and an excellent family man." Marina was a managing consultant with KittyHawk Partners. Before joining the company, he worked at Ford Motor Co., where he managed the purchasing of precious metals. He previously was a captain in the U.S. Air Force and had earned a bachelor's of science in aerospace engineering degree from Penn State University and a master's degree from the Fuqua School of Business in 2004. The National Transportation Safety Board investigated the crash site Monday to determine which of the men was piloting the four-seat Lancair Columbia 350 and what caused the crash. The plane was heading to the Steamboat Springs Airport-Bob Adams Field from Iowa. The crash was reported to the Routt County Sheriff's Office at 7:30 p.m. by a hunter who called 911 from his cell phone. The hunter, Dustin Woods of Denver, reported a plane flying dangerously low near Walton Peak. He reported hearing sputtering and what sounded like three loud backfires; then there was silence. Routt County Search and Rescue sent four ground teams out Saturday night with direction-finding equipment. The teams were called back to Steamboat at about 1:30 a.m., when their search was unsuccessful. At 8 a.m. Sunday, the Civil Air Patrol began to search for the crash site. Local pilot John Whitte took two Search and Rescue members in his helicopter. The downed plane was found at 10:37 a.m. by the helicopter. -- Autumn Phillips

"He wasn't joking," Tina Kyprios said. "That's how he was. He always said that being an American has little to do with where your feet are. It's about where your values are."

Greg Kyprios, who died Saturday at 41 when his Lancair Columbia 350 airplane went down just north of Walton Peak, was the son of a Foreign Service officer. He was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and probably spent more of his life overseas than in the states, his wife said. He spoke fluent French and German, and by the time he graduated from high school, he had lived in Belgium, Sri Lanka, Senegal, Greece and the Ivory Coast.

"He experienced things as a kid that made him treasure our Constitution," Kyprios said. "When I first met him, I was struck by how much he referred to the Constitution."

Tina and Greg Kyprios met in 1990 when they were both Army lieutenants posted near Frankfurt, Germany. That first night they didn't talk much, but a week later, when they met again at the same bar, they spent the whole night talking -- mostly about politics.

"We've been together ever since," Tina Kyprios said.

They married on Oct. 8, 1994, and had two daughters, ages 5 and 7.

They went about creating a life together that included moving to Steamboat Springs four years ago.

Greg Kyprios began flying airplanes five years ago. He bought the Lancair in June. His crash came as a shock to those who knew him.

"He was meticulous," said the Rev. David Henderson, a close friend and rector at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, where the Kyprios family worshipped. "In terms of flying, he never pushed the margin. He never took risks. The shock of this ..."

Tina Kyprios learned about her husband's disappearance Saturday night while she was at a church retreat in Fraser.

Henderson received a call on his cell phone that Kyprios and Luis Marina's plane was overdue.

Marina's family could not be reached for comment.

Henderson and Tina Kyprios drove back to Steamboat, arriving at about 1 a.m. at the Routt County Search and Rescue staging area near Dumont Lake turnoff, where they talked to Jim Linville. There was still no sign of the airplane, so they drove into Steamboat to the house of Tracy Marina, Luis Marina's wife.

They slept at few hours, and at first light, the two wives went back to the staging area.

When searchers found the plane, Tina Kyprios' first reaction was to visit the sight. Rescuers said she would be allowed into the crash site and offered her a timeline of when it could happen.

"As the time grew closer, I realized I didn't want to go," she said. "I think the reason I was saying I wanted to go was because I didn't believe them."

"Greg took his family commitments very seriously," Henderson said. "He worked hard, but he was always clear about his priorities to the point of putting most of us to shame.

"We lost a husband and a father when we lost Greg and that's what he would point to as the most important part of his life."

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