Missing Aviation Week Writer Found Dead

The Associated Press
Monday, June 12, 2006; 11:30 PM

LOS ANGELES -- The body of an award-winning journalist who had been missing more than a week was found Monday in a wrecked car that plunged off a mountain road, officials said.

Michael A. Dornheim, 51, a writer for Aviation Week & Space Technology, disappeared the evening of June 3 after dining with friends at a restaurant about a half-hour from his home. He had told the friends he intended to drive home by a less-traveled route.

A Los Angeles County helicopter crew spotted Dornheim's car Monday afternoon off the road in the Santa Monica Mountains, between coastal Malibu and inland Calabasas, police said. The car was overturned 300 feet to 400 feet below the road.

Police said the death appeared accidental. An investigation was continuing.

Dornheim was a senior engineer on the aerodynamics staff at the Boeing Co. before he joined the editorial staff of Aviation Week in 1984. He also was a private pilot.

He received the 1994 Aviation/Space Writers Association Award of Excellence for stories on the space shuttle. He was also a three-time winner of the Royal Aeronautical Society's Aerospace Journalist of the Year Awards, which cited his coverage of aviation news, aerospace technology and air safety.

"Mike had a unique combination of engineering education and experience, aerospace industry knowledge, inquisitiveness and dogged perseverance," Jim Asker, Aviation Week magazine's managing editor, said in a statement.

"When it comes to things that fly _ whether in the atmosphere or in space _ no one could explain better than Mike Dornheim how things worked, or more importantly, why they didn't," Asker said.

© 2006 The Associated Press