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.
Update: 9/20/16 – Although the Fort Worth Alliance Airshow asked to be removed from this post last week, we have reconfirmed that two Phantoms plan to attend the show and have re-added it to the schedule.
We have already reported that 2016 is the final year for USAF-operated F-4 Phantoms, but we are happy to report that they will go out with a public celebration of their service. As announced by F-4 pilot Ron ‘Elvis’ King at EAA AirVenture, there are plans to fly the last remaining F-4s in Holloman Air Force Base on December 20th this year. He estimates that four Phantoms will take part in the event. There will be multiple flybys and some supersonic flying, as well as a Phinal Phantom formation of four F-4s.
The aircraft will also be making several other public appearances this year before this final send off. The most recent plans include just four stops; three of them airshows and one a NASCAR race flyover. As always, and especially with these old jets, the appearances are subject to change at any time due to weather, mechanical issues, or operational scheduling.
16-19 Sep – Reno, NV
23-26 Sep – MCAS Miramar, CA
14-17 Oct – Ft. Worth Alliance, TX
6 Nov – NASCAR Sprint Cup Flyby at Texas Motor Speedway
10-14 Nov – Nellis AFB, NV
Holloman Air Force Base is located near Alamogordo, New Mexico and is home to multiple flight groups such as F-16s of the 54th Fighter Group and the German Air Force Flying Training Center of the German Luftwaffe.
The Phantoms at Holloman Air Force Base are QF-4 Phantom target drones. As of EAA AirVenture 2016, 20 QF-4s remained in inventory. Not all of them will be completely destroyed, but members of the QF-4 program were told that they will need to get rid of the Phantoms one way or another. Once they are gone, the only remaining F-4 Phantom that will be airworthy in the United States is the one owned by the Collings Foundation, which has had mechanical issues for several years.
The date is currently tentative and is subject to change, but the pilots want to get the word out. So mark your calendars; USAF F-4 Phantoms will have one last hurrah in New Mexico before signing off for good this December.
For those who can’t make it, rest assured that AirshowStuff will have plenty of F-4 footage coming, including more exclusive cockpit footage!
While the formation of a B-52 and B-17 has been seen before in recent years, the addition of the B-29 is significant in a historic aspect. Arguably, strategic air power for the United States began shortly before World War II with the US Army Air Corps purchase of Boeing Y1B-17s. Later manufactured and flown in service as the B-17, it became the backbone of air power in the European theater. Following the success of the 17 and strategic bombing, the B-29 would take over as the dominant force behind America’s newly formed Air Force until it’s retirement in 1960. At the dawn of the jet age, the B-29 would then be replaced by multiple new bomber designs until the iconic B-52 ultimately seated itself as the primary bomber of strategic air power for the US Air Force from 1952 on, still serving today.
The planned flight holds significance in the additional regard that the Boeing Company, the manufacturer of all three airframes, celebrates their centennial this year. For spectators at the show, this will be a unique opportunity to see the lineage of US bomber technology and heritage sharing the skies as a veritable bridge across time joining past and present.
Might airshow fans get a few more glimpses of F-4 Phantom IIs before they are gone for good? An interesting line in the Wings Over Wayne Airshow at Seymour-Johnson AFB in North Carolina (which hosted F-4s until 1988) certainly begs the question. The airshow’s schedule mentions an F-4 flyby, and the static list also includes an F-4 in the ‘warbirds’ section. The Goldsboro Daily News also lists a QF-4 Phantom as both an aerial performer and static display at the show. However, the official Wings Over Wayne Twitter account makes no mention of a Phantom, which would presumably be a highlight worthy of mentioning.
The USAF painted several of its QF-4 Phantoms, modified to fly without a pilot to serve as targets in missile tests, in special commemorative paint schemes years ago and allowed them to perform mini demonstrations and Heritage Flights at airshows. However, the program was known to be temporary and each year brought promises that it would be the last. Now that nearly all of the QF-4s have been shot down, the USAF has begun transitioning to QF-16s for the same role. Any QF-4s left will have extremely limited support and likely life spans to match. The Collings Foundation does operate an F-4 Phantom as a private aircraft, but it is a rare sight at airshows due to engine problems and its immense cost.