Appleton, who had been CEO of the semiconductor manufacturer since 2007, was 51.
"Our hearts go out to his wife, Dalynn, his children and his family during this tragic time," said the company in a statement. "Steve's passion and energy left an indelible mark on Micron, the Idaho community and the technology industry at large."
Appleton, an avid pilot, was the only one in the experimental fixed-wing plane when it crashed at the Boise airport, said the Associated Press. The company is headquartered in Boise.
The accident happened just before 9 a.m. MST. The Idaho Statesman said reports came in of a small plane, with one person aboard, on fire before it crashed between two runways.
In a recording of Boise air traffic control provided to ABC News by the website LiveATC.net, a voice believed to be Appleton's can be heard requesting clearance to turn around after takeoff and return to the airport.
"321LC, I'd like to turn back in...and, uh, land...coming back in, uh, 32," says the voice.
"November One [unintelligible]," answers the tower. There is shouting in the background.
A few seconds later: "Cherokee one, cancel takeoff clearance, hold short, correction, cancel takeoff clearance."
Another minute passes while other planes on the ground are told to wait. After some crosstalk a controller says:
"Aircraft calling Boise Tower, stand by, emergency."
The voices on the recording are mostly low-key, punctuated by long periods during which no microphones are activated. The only voice that clearly sounds stressed is the pilot's as he says he would like to turn back and land.
The plane was a Lancair single-engine experimental propeller aircraft. The Statesman said Appleton, an avid pilot, had been involved in a crash in an aerobatic plane in the Idaho desert in 2004.
Micron Technology is one of the world's leading providers of advanced semiconductors. It manufactures and markets a range of memory chips for computers and other electronic devices.
Trading in Micron stock was halted on the Nasdaq after word of the accident. After a rough 2011, the stock had surged 26 percent in 2012, and was up almost 3 percent today before trading stopped. Prices for semiconductors have been dropping, though Micron was regarded as one of the stronger companies in the field. The company's president, Mark Durcan, said just last month that he planned to retire in August.
ABC News' James Hill and Matt Hosford contributed to this report. Additional information from The Associated Press.