Former White House official Dana Hyde dies after business jet encounters turbulence


A former White House and international development official died last week after the business jet she was flying in hit severe turbulence in New England, officials said Monday.

Dana Hyde, 55, of Cabin John, Md., flew on a plane operated by rural broadband consultancy Conexon with her husband and one of their sons, the company said. Neither their relatives nor the two members of the flight crew were injured, according to the company and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Hyde was taken to a hospital in Hartford, Connecticut, after the Bombardier jet made an emergency landing en route from Keene, NH, to Leesburg Executive Airport in Virginia, Connecticut state police said. The incident is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The family members returned Friday from attending school in New England, Hyde’s husband Jonathan Chambers said in an email to employees and customers of Conexon, which is based in Kansas City, Missouri, and where Chambers is a partner.

“Dana was the best person I’ve ever known. She was a wonderful mom to our boys and she was professionally savvy,” Chambers wrote. “She loved and was loved.”

In addition to investigating what it originally described as a turbulence event, the NTSB said Monday that its investigators are “now investigating a reported trim issue that occurred prior to the in-flight disruption.” The agency did not describe the nature of the reported issue, but trim generally refers to a flight control system that makes it easier for the pilot to maintain the aircraft’s flight path.

How dangerous is turbulence?

On the way home, Chambers said, “The plane suddenly spasmed so badly that the three of us were thrown violently. My wife was seriously injured.” An ambulance was waiting, but her injuries were too serious, he said. She died that night.

Federal safety investigators will analyze weather data as well as information from the plane’s flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, the NTSB said. The agency said a preliminary report would be released in two or three weeks.

Hyde was a special assistant to the White House during the Clinton years. She was also a senior adviser at the State Department during the administration of President Barack Obama before becoming deputy director of the White House Office of Administration and Budget. Earlier in her career, she was an adviser to the 9/11 Commission, which studied the nation’s preparation for 9/11 September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Hyde has long focused on international development and poverty issues during her years in Washington, including as chief executive executive Millennium Challenge Corporation, an independent US agency dedicated to reducing global poverty.

Hyde was seen as a “brilliant and generous colleague,” said Jon Purves, a spokeswoman for the Aspen Institute, where she was co-chair of the Aspen Partnership for an Inclusive Economy in 2020 and 2021. “The thoughts of our entire Aspen Institute community are with Dana’s family and loved ones.”

Her husband said Hyde was born in rural eastern Oregon and worked through college and law school to approach a long list of federal jobs with a sense of love.

“Her desire to help people was evident in her career choices,” Chambers wrote, saying she takes particular pride in her work, which invests in infrastructure in underdeveloped parts of Africa and Asia.

In a statement during her 2013 Senate hearing for the position of CEO of the Millennium Challenge, Hyde spoke of how the US government’s support has transformed “not just the lives of people, but entire communities – even entire countries.”

That foreign development work also serves to enhance national security, Hyde said, citing insights from her work on the 9/11 investigation.

“We should use every tool in our toolbox to protect our nation,” she said at the time. “Creating economic opportunity where little is found is critical to regional and global stability — helping countries create the conditions for their citizens to start businesses, learn new skills and create jobs.”

Chambers is a former Republican staff director on the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, where his work included a focus on telecommunications. They have two sons, Judah and Elijah.

As part of her confirmation, Hyde thanked generations of supportive families, “especially my three boys.”

Hyde spent time studying and working in Israel and “fell in love with the country, the language and the people,” Chambers said. “So we decided to bury her in this special place.”

This story has been updated to better describe trimming.

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