Aguila, Arizona (WSYR-TV) - Members of the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field are mourning the loss of a former commander who died in a glider crash in Arizona.
Retired Major General Robert Knauff was identified as the pilot by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
The aircraft involved in the crash was registered to a Manlius, NY address where Knauff lived.
"The glider became disconnected from the (tow) airplane at approx. 100 feet and attempted a turn," a spokesperson for the sheriff's office explained. "The glider stalled and crashed to the ground nose first."
Gliders must be towed into the air by another plane. Investigators still aren't sure how the mechanism disconnected. The NTSB has taken over the investigation.
From 1996 to 2003, Major General Robert Knauff commanded what was then known as the 174th Fighter Wing at Hancock Field.
He eventually became commander of the New York Air National Guard and deputy commander of the New York Army and Air National Guard.
Knauff had ties to Arizona, where he had served as an F-15 instructor pilot at Luke Air Force Base. A military website lists him as a combat veteran with more than 3,900 flying hours.
During his military career, Knauff earned numerous honors, including the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, the National Defense Medal, the New York State Conspicuous Service Medal, and the New York State Defense of Liberty Medal.
A spokesperson for the National Guard said Knauff never broke ties with his support of the military, remaining active after retirement with the Military Association of New York.
"The National Guard has not only lost a terrifc leader and officer from his many years of service, but a tremendous advocate for our soldiers and airmen," said National Guard spokesperson Col. Richard Goldenberg.