Don Corbitt of Bellevue was developing instrumentation to make general aviation safer.
His gadgetry would help monitor fuel, record briefings from air controllers and warn pilots of pending problems.
He had the talent. A patent-holding computer expert, he helped create Microsoft's Windows 3.1 and Windows 95. He had the flying background, a private pilot's license with an instrument rating.
Before his invention could get off the ground, the 38-year-old father of five died in an airplane crash Wednesday at Arlington Municipal Airport, minutes before the annual Northwest Experimental Aircraft Association's Arlington Fly-In began. He was the second pilot killed in two days at the airport. Killed Tuesday was Harry Tomlinson, 71, also of Bellevue.
"I hadn't known he was going to the air show," said Karen Corbitt of her husband. "I tried calling his cell phone, and when the call didn't go through, I figured he was either in an office building or in his plane.
"I was starting to worry when two police officers knocked on my door."
Karen Corbitt said her husband probably had gone to the air show to find pilots to test his electronic package.
"He had just started the company, and he called it Planevue," she said.
Don Corbitt crashed in an RV-6A, a home-built plane he had purchased two weeks ago. A mechanic had gone with him to Oregon to check out the craft before he completed the purchase. Karen Corbitt recalled her husband describing it as a perfect plane in good condition.
"We're Mormon, so Don never drank or smoked, and he was a cautious pilot," she said.
He was a member of the Wings Aloft Flying Club at Boeing Field. Bill Crippen, a vice president of the club, described Corbitt as "one heck of a nice guy, a gentle giant of a man, about 6-5."
The Corbitts moved to the Eastside in 1990. He was from Arizona, she from Utah. He retired from Microsoft early in 1997.