U.S. Pilot Elgin Wells Killed While Practicing for Chinese Airshow

posted in: Airshows | 30

Elgin Wells, known for his “Starjammer” routine was killed when his aerobatic aircraft crashed during a practice flight ahead of the Zhengzhou airshow in Zhengzhou, China.

The crash occurred around 6:14pm local time on Wednesday the 26th of April. An investigation into the cause of the crash is underway.

The Zhengzhou Air Show is scheduled to kick off on Friday, April 27th and last until May 1st. Several airshow performers from the United States are scheduled to perform. In March, Well’s aircraft was shipped to China in preparation for the show.

Wells was a native of the Atlanta, GA area. From the age of 14, he began playing instruments and singing. His band, the “The Elgin Wells Group” won several awards, including the New South Music Award for Best Jazz Band. He has produced 12 albums, mainly in the jazz and blues genre.

He began flying in 1968 at the age of 18. His father, a fighter squadron commander who served in the Pacific during WW2 was a career pilot with delta Airlines. Elgin’s dad wanted him to join the airlines, but all Wells wanted to do was fly aerobatics. In the early 2000s, Elgin was flying Unlimited low level aerobatic competitions and helped lead a team of airshow pilots known as “Airshow Unlimited.”


In 1996, Wells began building the StarJammer, which has 250+ lights and a 4,000 watt amplifier and onboard loudspeakers as a sound system. As the World’s only aircraft of it’s kind, the StarJammer combines aerobatics and music together in one unique performance for both daytime and nighttime airshows.

Photo compliments of Elgin Wells Website

30 Responses

  1. Tom Chrisman

    So deeply saddened to hear about Elgin. I’m lost for words. Elgin was one of the most exceptionally talented and nicest people I’ve had the opportunity to know. Truely a great loss and my heartfelt condolences to his wife, family, and close friends and band mates. Both the ladies in my life and I will miss you old friend!
    Tom C

  2. Bob Toxen

    I’m deeply saddened to hear this tragic news. Two months ago Elgin told me how excited he was to be performing at this show in China. He always had a positive attitude about everything and infectious enthusiasm.

  3. Randy Jenkins

    Lisa I really wasn’t aware of how accomplished Elgin was I know he was very humble what’s left of the jenkins family on this side are so so sad I know how much you & your entire family loved Elgin. What a great person & companion so sorry. I’m about to cry. Randy & Michelle J.

  4. John Jacobs

    Great guy! If there’s any consolation it’s that he died doing what he loved…

  5. Skip

    I saw him perform music and also fly his Decathlon. Both performances were spectacular. RIP

  6. Dean Anderson

    So very saddened to hear of the loss of such an amazing and talented human being. RIP Elgin.

  7. C. Raymond

    It has been recommended one should end their air show career by their late fifties. I sold my modified Pitts when I was in my fifties.

  8. David

    I never knew this dimension of Elgin’s but then he was such a gifted individual in so many areas. We saw him perform as the Elgin Wells Extravaganza many times in Atlanta and loved his music. Soar high, Elgin. Peace.

  9. Yoshi Inaba

    I love his music so much.He was my icon when I studied English at Atlanta in late 80s. He was cool and warm person. I would like to convey my heartfelt condelences to Lisa.

    Yoshi Inaba from Tokyo Japan

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