Douglas C-47 “Bluebonnet Belle” Crashes On Takeoff

posted in: Warbirds | 1

Douglas C-47 Skytrain "Bluebonnet Belle"

Shortly after 9:00 A.M. on Saturday July 21, the Commemorative Air Force’s Douglas C-47 Skytrain “Bluebonnet Belle” reportedly crashed during a takeoff at Burnet Municipal Airport in Burnet, Texas.

Video of the accident shows that the aircraft began to yaw during the takeoff roll. Shortly after lifting off, the left wing dropped and struck the ground. The aircraft then came down and rolled across the grass where shortly before coming to a rest, the aircraft caught fire.

**WARNING: Video contains strong language**
Facebook Video of crash

Of the 13 people inside, all were reportedly able to evacuate the aircraft. Seven are reported with minor injuries with one passenger needing to be airlifted to a nearby hospital. Fire fighters were able to extinguish the fire. Much of the aircraft has been burned away.

“Bluebonnet Belle” was an active part of the Highland Lakes Squadron CAF museum. Named after the city of Burnet, the Bluebonnet Capital of Texas, its history started as part of the Allied Lend-Lease Program serving the Royal Air Force during the Second World War and was most recently involved with the relief efforts of Hurricane Harvey last year.

Pilot Killed, Two Others Injured When Rare de Havilland Venom Crashes On Takeoff In Wisconsin

posted in: Warbirds | 0

Marty Tibbetts Killed In DH-112 Venom Crash - Sheboygan WI

Pilot Marty Tibbetts was killed on Friday when his de Havilland DH-112 Venom aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff. Marty was on a formation training flight when the accident occurred. The aircraft crashed into a barn near the airport, killing dozens of livestock and injuring two people on the ground.

The Venom, along with a de Havilland Vampire and rare Gloster Meteor, was to be a featured performer at EAA AirVenture 2018 in Oshkosh, WI. All three are owned by the World Heritage Air Museum, based out of Detroit, Michigan. The formation training flight was in preparation for the show.

The Venom is a Cold War-era British jet which served with the Royal Air Force as a single-seat bomber and a two-seat night fighter. According to the World Heritage Air Museum, there are only 4-6 flying Venoms in the world, including the one they had. The aircraft was the only one of its type flying in the US.

Sadly, we filmed Marty flying the Venom just one week before the crash. We present this video in his memory. May he rest in peace.

Dan Buchanan Killed In Hang Glider Accident At Mountain Home AFB Airshow

posted in: Airshows | 2

An accident at an airshow in Idaho has killed hang glider pilot Dan Buchanan.

Buchanan was flying at the Gunfighter Skies Air and Space Celebration at Mountain Home Air Force Base.

At this time, the cause of the crash is unknown.

The remainder of Saturday’s show, including the performance by the USAF Thunderbirds, was canceled. Sunday’s airshow will be held, as a tribute to Dan.

In 1981, Buchanan was injured in a different hang glider incident. That accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. Despite this handicap, Dan returned to flying within six months and flew his first airshow in 1989.

Buchanan was a popular performer on the airshow circuit, with his daytime and nighttime glider routines. Over the years his awards and accolades have included the Art Scholl Award for Showmanship, the Bill Barber Award for Showmanship and the ICAS Special Achievement Award.

Follow along in our forums for further updates.

GEICO Skytypers Pilot Ken Johansen Killed In Long Island Crash

posted in: Airshows | 5

Geico Skytypers Crash - Ken Johansen

Ken Johansen, a member of the the GEICO Skytypers airshow team, was killed earlier today when his SNJ-2 aircraft crashed in Melville, NY on Long Island.

Witnesses say the aircraft encountered an issue in flight, leading to the crash. The crash site was in a residential area not far from the team’s home airport, the Republic Airport in Farmingdale, NY. Video taken immediately before the crash shows the aircraft in a spin as it approaches the ground.

Nobody on the ground was injured. The fire was quickly extinguished by local and airport fire crews.

GEICO Skytypers

Ken is a second generation Skytyper. His father, Bob is also on the team. Ken first flew with the Skytypers at the age of eight. The team’s website says he caught the aviation bug early in life from his father. Ken graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1989 and earned his Navy wings in 1991.

He went on to fly P-3 Orions on both coasts with VP-23 and VP-46. His career also took him to the Netherlands, where he flew P-3s with the Royal Netherlands Navy from 1996 to 1998. Ken opted to transition from active duty with the Navy and was quickly hired by TWA, where he flew MD-80s, 757s, and 767s. After giving up his active duty status, Ken was also hired by VR-52 in Willow Grove, PA, as a Navy Reserve Instruction Pilot flying DC-9s around the world. Recently, he was the Commanding Officer of VR-58 in Jacksonville, FL, flying C-40s (737-700s) throughout the world. He leaves behind a wife and two children.

An investigation is underway involving the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The GEICO Skytypers are well known for their skytyping and airshow demonstrations. Using their WWII-era SNJ trainers, they create words in the sky the size of the Empire State Building.

The team performed last weekend at the Bethpage Airshow at Jones Beach, very close to the crash site, and was scheduled to perform this weekend at the NAS Patuxent River airshow in Maryland.

AirshowStuff extends our condolences to the family, friends, and teammates of Ken.

GEICO Skytypers Ribbon

USAF Thunderbirds Announce Return To Airshows Following Fatal Crash

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams | 0

USAF Thunderbirds

The Thunderbirds are back! In a video posted by the team, Thunderbird #1 Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh announced that the team has been authorized to perform at the AirPower Over Hampton Roads airshow at Langley AFB this coming weekend. This will mark their first public performance following the fatal crash of Thunderbird #4, Major Stephen “Cajun” Del Bagno, in April.

Several airshow appearances were canceled in the wake of the crash, as the team observed a safety stand down from flying and then welcomed the previous Thunderbird #4 Major Nick “Khan” Krajicek back to the team to fly as the replacement slot pilot. Now that they have been approved to return to performing, they will get back to their previously announced 2018 airshow schedule.

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

posted in: Airshows | 29

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.”

Starjammer

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

Rob Holland Back In The Air After Crash Landing; Will Resume 2018 Airshow Schedule

posted in: Aerobatics | 1

Rob Holland

Airshow pilot and four time consecutive world freestyle champion Rob Holland is ready to take to the skies at airshows across the states again after being reacquainted with an old friend.

Holland has leased his previous MX2 from the current owner, Marty Flournoy. Holland sold the aircraft to Flourney, himself an aerobatic pilot, after acquiring the custom-built MXS-RH that was heavily damaged in a forced landing a few weeks ago.

Rob says this is his way of “moving forward” with the 2018 show season following the incident. The aircraft has already been painted and wrapped in sponsor logos.

You can view Rob Holland’s 2018 show schedule on our forums.

Here’s a video of Rob flying his old MX2 at the 2010 Rockford Airfest.

USAF Thunderbirds Cancel Appearance At Wings Over Columbus 2018

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 1

USAF Thunderbirds F-16 Fighting Falcon

The USAF Thunderbirds have canceled their planned appearance at the 2018 Wings Over Columbus airshow at Columbus AFB in Mississippi. The move was announced in a video update by Thunderbird #1 following the death of Thunderbird #4, Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, in a crash during practice last week. The team had previously announced they were skipping their performances at the March ARB airshow this past weekend as well as Sun ‘n Fun in Lakeland, FL next weekend.

It is important to note that while the Thunderbird performances have been canceled, the airshows themselves will be held as originally scheduled. The Air Force’s Air Combat Command has been working to add single-ship demonstrations to affected shows; Sun ‘n Fun recently announced that the F-16 Fighting Falcon demonstration team (Viper Demo) will perform there to fill in for the Thunderbirds.

We have updated our 2018 USAF Thunderbirds schedule to reflect the confirmed cancellations, but we expect more appearances to be canceled as part of a safety stand down after the accident. Stay tuned to AirshowStuff for future updates.

Thunderbird #4 Killed In F-16 Crash Near Creech AFB

posted in: Jet Teams | 0

Thunderbird #4 Major Stephen

The US Air Force has released the name of the Thunderbird pilot killed in yesterday’s F-16 crash in Nevada. Thunderbird #4, Major Stephen Del Bagno, was killed in the crash that occurred while the team was practicing their airshow routine near Creech AFB. He was in his first of two seasons with the team, which is based at nearby Nellis AFB in Las Vegas. He had over 3,500 flight hours in both civilian and Air Force aircraft.

Here is Maj. Del Bagno’s full bio from the Thunderbirds’ website:
Maj. Stephen Del Bagno is the Slot Pilot for the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, flying the No. 4 jet. He is a 2005 graduate of Utah Valley State University, and commissioned from Officer Training School, Maxwell AFB, Ala. in 2007. Before joining the Air Force, Del Bagno was a civilian flight instructor, corporate pilot, skywriter, and a banner tow pilot. He enjoys snowboarding, water sports and spending time with family and friends. Prior to joining the Thunderbirds, Del Bagno served as an F-35A Evaluator Pilot and Chief of Standardization and Evaluation, 58th Fighter Squadron, Eglin AFB, Fla. He has logged more than 3,500 total flight hours in over 30 different aircraft, with 1,400 hours as an Air Force pilot. Del Bagno is in his first season with the team and hails from Valencia, Calif.

“We are mourning the loss of Major Del Bagno,” said Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, 57th Wing Commander. “He was an integral part of our team and our hearts are heavy with his loss. We ask everyone to provide his family and friends the space to heal during this difficult time.”

Our thoughts are with Maj. Del Bagno’s family and teammates.

This is the first fatal crash for the team since 1982, when the four pilots in the diamond formation were killed after failing to recover from a loop. The famous tragedy became known as the “diamond crash”, and occurred in the same training area as today’s crash.

There have been more recent nonfatal crashes; in 2016 Thunderbird #6 crashed just short of the runway at Peterson AFB in Colorado after the team performed a flyover for the US Air Force Academy graduation ceremony. The pilot ejected safely, and the crash was eventually blamed on a faulty throttle component. The same day, Capt. Jeff Kuss of the US Navy Blue Angels demonstration team was killed in a crash while practicing for an airshow in Smyrna, TN.

In 2017, Thunderbird #8 skidded off a soaked runway while landing at the Dayton Airshow in Ohio. The flight was not part of the airshow; it was a “familiarization flight” with a member of the team’s maintenance crew in the back seat. Both pilot and passenger survived, though the pilot was injured.

Please visit our forums for further discussion on the crash and what it means for the airshow season.

Thunderbird F-16 Crashes In Nevada; Pilot Killed

posted in: Jet Teams | 7

US Air Force Thunderbirds - F-16 Fighting Falcon

UPDATE: The name of the pilot has been released.

ORIGINAL POST: An F-16 Fighting Falcon jet belonging to the US Air Force Thunderbirds crashed Wednesday inside the military’s Nevada Test and Training Range outside of Nellis AFB. The pilot of the jet was killed, however, the name has not been released yet pending next of kin notification. We expect to hear the name on Thursday. An investigation is being conducted into the cause of the mishap.

The team was performing an airshow practice routine near Creech AFB in Indian Springs, NV when the crash occurred. The Thunderbirds are based at nearby Nellis AFB, which sits on the outskirts of Las Vegas, NV. They opened their 2018 airshow season just a week and a half ago after canceling a couple of appearances to allow extra training time for their new commanding officer.

This is the first fatal crash for the team since 1982, when the four pilots in the diamond formation were killed after failing to recover from a loop. The famous incident became known as the “diamond crash”, and occurred in the same training area as today’s crash.

There have been more recent nonfatal crashes; in 2016 Thunderbird #6 crashed just short of the runway at Peterson AFB in Colorado after the team performed a flyover for the US Air Force Academy graduation ceremony. The pilot ejected safely, and the crash was eventually blamed on a faulty throttle component. The same day, Capt. Jeff Kuss of the US Navy Blue Angels demonstration team was killed in a crash while practicing for an airshow in Smyrna, TN.

In 2017, Thunderbird #8 skidded off a soaked runway while landing at the Dayton Airshow in Ohio. The flight was not part of the airshow; it was a “familiarization flight” with a member of the team’s maintenance crew in the back seat. Both pilot and passenger survived, though the pilot was injured.

There are few details available at this point, but we will update you once the pilot’s name is released. In the mean time, be sure to check our forums for further discussion on the crash and what it means for the airshow season. The team’s participation at the March Air Reserve Base “The March Field Air & Space Expo” has been cancelled.

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