The pilot killed in Monday’s N9M Flying Wing crash has been identified as David Vopat. He was flying the one-of-a-kind aircraft near its home base in Chino, CA when it crashed into a prison yard in nearby Norco. You can read more about the N9M in our previous post on the crash.
After the crash, Planes of Fame put out a statement which confirmed that the aircraft was being flown in preparation for the upcoming airshow organized by the museum. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
Here is the crash statement from Planes of Fame:
Today at approximately 12:00 PM one of our Museum pilots and our N9MB Northrop Flying Wing were lost in an accident in Norco, CA. The flight was being conducted in preparation for the upcoming Planes of Fame Airshow where it was scheduled to fly. At this time details are not known as to the cause of the accident. The NTSB will investigate the accident to determine the cause. To our knowledge no one on the ground was injured nor was there damage to any buildings.
The identification of the pilot, the sole occupant, is being withheld pending notification of family.
The Planes of Fame N9MB, one of four one-third size flying wings built for flight testing in 1944, had been restored over a thirteen (13) year period beginning in 1981. The one of a kind aircraft flew its first post restoration flight on September 11, 1994 and had safely flown several hundred hours since then.
We are deeply saddened by the loss of the pilot and our deepest sympathies go out to his family.
The museum later posted this tribute to David after his name was officially made public:
David flew professionally with a commercial airline, was a certified flight instructor, and had a passion for vintage aircraft and warbirds. He began volunteering much of his time at our museum over seven years ago and flew various aircraft including our P-40 and AT-6/SNJ but expressed a keen interest in the Northrop N9MB Flying Wing. He was entrusted as the primary pilot and chief mechanic on that very special aircraft, and flew the Wing for several years in local airshows to the joy and delight of spectators. David could often be found working late hours at the museum and was a valued A&P mechanic, always willing to jump in and lend a hand. His positive attitude and limitless energy were as much an asset as his skills and expertise.
Our thoughts go out to David’s family and the Planes of Fame organization as they mourn his loss.