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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Executives of US Highland Motorcycles die in plane crash near Tulsa



US Highland Inc.
A Highland motocross bike.
US Highland, Inc., a  small maker of motocross, supermoto and other specialized competition and street motorcycles, said three members of its management team died in a plane crash near Tulsa International Airport on Saturday.
People who follow off-road racing will recognize the name of the Mounds, Okla.-based company. Founded in Sweden in the late 1990s by former motorcycle racer Mats Malmberg, the former Swedish Highland Motorcycles AB reorganized and moved to the U.S. earlier this year. company president Mats Malmberg, 41; chief operating officer Chase Bales, 51 and chief financial officer Damian Riddoch, 37, died in the crash.
The three were returning from a business trip to Michigan when they asked to make an emergency landing at the Tulsa airport. They had originally planed to fly to another airport in Jenks, Okla., but reportedly ran low on fuel. Mr. Bales was the owner and pilot of the plane, a twin-engine Cessna 421 that crashed in a wooded area of a city park about 2000 yards north of the airport.
The death of the executives is a blow to the company, which had planned to roll out a new line of motorcycles and significantly boost production and sales over the next two years. Highland Viking Story HERE. It also hurts the U.S. motorcycle industry, which includes a number of small cottage-style manufacturers that build bikes and parts for specialized types of riding. Most of the major motorcycle manufactures are Japanese and sell hundreds of thousands of bikes a year compared with hundreds for many small companies.
Highland was known for building off-road bikes based on buyers’ measurements. They assembled bikes using a modular system of different frames, engines and other components. The company also provided engineering services to other manufacturers.