Neil Wright MacNichol, 21, a native of McCall, Idaho and a resident of Moab, passed away on July 2, 2015, from injuries sustained in an aircraft accident that occurred approximately 40 miles southeast of Sun Valley, Idaho, while en route from Canyonlands Field Airport to Stanley, Idaho for a family gathering. His plane experienced an undetermined malfunction and went missing the afternoon of July 2, and was discovered on the morning of July 3.
Neil was born October 10, 1993, in Portland, Oregon, the son of Douglas and Lori MacNichol. Neil graduated from McCall-Donnelly High School in 2012. Throughout his high school years, Neil enjoyed hockey as a goalie, lacrosse and football. His senior year he was class vice president with duties such as morning announcements, the daily joke and MC at all events. Neil’s friends remember him as happy, filled with humor and a large contagious smile to share with all. Neil could brighten any room he walked into and was the life of every party.
He went on to further his education at Oregon State University and transferred to an aviation accredited university, Utah Valley University. Neil’s passion was flying and he obtained a pilot’s license at the early age of 17. He then added multi-engine instrument and commercial certifications. He built hours flying in the Idaho backcountry. In 2014, he obtained a commercial flying position for Redtail Aviation in Moab, Utah, and was a professional pilot for the past two years conducting Arial tours over Canyonlands National Park, delivering river rafters to remote corners of the Green and Colorado Rivers and having the time of his life.
Neil saved all his earnings and fulfilled a dream by buying his own plane in early 2015. When he was not enjoying outdoor activities such as rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, rappelling, camping, snowshoeing, ice climbing, etc., he could be found in the skies. He was highly experienced for such a young pilot after logging countless hours of backcountry navigation and skill training with his mother, who is also a well-known mountain pilot.
Neil had an infectious personality that was fueled by his intellect, humor and passion for life. He loved people and people loved him. He found honor and purpose in all that he did and inspired the same in those around him. He continuously went out of his way to foster the love of aviation in others and shared the thrill of flying every chance he got. He was very close to completing his next goal of obtaining his Certified Flight Instructor certificate. He will be dearly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing and flying with him.
He is survived by his mother Lori MacNichol; sister Madison MacNichol; paternal grandparents Roland and Sally MacNichol; and many loving uncles, aunts and cousins of the MacNichol family. He is also survived on his maternal side by step-grandmother Marty Foster as well as numerous loving uncles, aunts and cousins of the Foster family.
He is preceded in death by his father Douglas MacNichol; maternal grandmother Sue VanHarpen and grandfather Jerry Foster.
A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 18, at the MacNichol and Gregory family residence, 1423 Club Hill Blvd., McCall ID 83638.
The family asks that everyone who would like to join, please come and take part in a celebration of Neil’s life and memory. Please bring your favorite story or memory of Neil and any beloved photos, which you are willing to part with as they will be put into a book at a later date.
A foundation has been established at Idaho First Bank in McCall, Idaho, in Neil’s memory for the purpose of funding local students who desire to be aspiring pilots. In lieu of flowers, please contribute in Neil’s honor.
Arrangements are under the care of Wood River Chapel of Hailey, Idaho. Friends may visit www.woodriverchapel.com to share a message, photo or story and to light a candle.