Vucano Market - US Navy Blue Angels Towels (Officially Licensed)
Vucano Market - US Navy Blue Angels Towels (Officially Licensed)

Vlado Lenoch And Passenger Killed In Kansas P-51 Mustang Crash

posted in: Warbirds | 3
Vlado Lenoch Leads the United States Air Force Heritage Flight
This photo, taken just two weeks before the crash, shows Vlado and Baby Duck leading a Heritage Flight. At the time, it was a cool photo but now it means so much more.

Nearly everyone in the airshow community lost a friend this weekend. Pilot Vlado Lenoch, along with passenger Bethany Root, was killed when the P-51 Mustang “Baby Duck” crashed near Atchison, Kansas Sunday morning. Vlado had performed at the Amelia Earhart Festival the previous night in Atchison. Bethany was the manager of the airport there, and Vlado was no doubt taking her for a flight before heading home.

Vlado was an airshow and warbird icon, and one of the most prolific pilots here in the Midwest. He flew many types, but was most closely associated with P-51 Mustangs; especially “Moonbeam McSwine”, which he owned for many years. After selling Moonbeam he instead became synonymous with Baby Duck and frequently flew it all across the Midwest. He was also an Aerobatic Competency Evaluator (ACE) for other pilots and one of the few civilian pilots in the US Air Force Heritage Flight program.

Vlado Lenoch and his P-51 Mustang "Moonbeam McSwine"Vlado Lenoch and his P-51 Mustang "Moonbeam McSwine"

His biography on the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation website gives only a glimpse of his amazing experience:

Vlado Lenoch of Burr Ridge, Illinois is married with three children. His love of aviation began in 1970 when, at age 17, he learned to fly at Chicago’s Midway Airport. He earned an aeronautical engineering degree from Purdue and a Master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Following college, he was employed at the Boeing Commercial Airplane Company in Seattle as a 747 instructor. From that point, he was employed at two major airlines flying the Boeing 727 and Douglas DC-9 aircraft. Currently, he flies a corporate Citation jet for a private company in Illinois.

Lenoch is a licensed Airline Transport pilot with flight instructor ratings in single and multi-engine aircraft, instruments and gliders. He holds authorization for the B-727, Cessna 525, F-86, A-1, A-37, L-39, T-33, P-40, P-47, P-51, F6F, F4U and T-28 aircraft. Vlado has over 11,000 hours of flight time and has built his own aircraft, a Pitts S-1T biplane, which he competes in at the highest level.

A member since 1997, the year in which the Heritage Flight program was founded, Vlado is one of the most seasoned pilots. He has been a director in the FAST Fighter Formation program since 1990 and an ICAS and EAA Warbird Aerobatic Competency Evaluator since 1995. Vlado is a lifetime member in the Commemorative Air Force, Soaring Society of America and Experimental Aircraft Association. Vlado’s great uncle, Cvitan Galic (of Czech ancestry), was a 39-victory Luftwaffe Fighter Ace in the Me-109 in World War II.

Vlado Lenoch and the P-51 Mustang "Baby Duck"

Vlado was also famous for his laid back and friendly attitude. Everyone was his friend, and he was always willing to help us pesky photographers out. We worked with him on many occasions through the years, setting up on board cameras and taking photos of the cockpit. Two of us were standing on Baby Duck’s wing doing just that only two weeks ago – we took a smiling selfie that is almost haunting now. We were starting to look at that footage today, before the news broke. All of us here at AirshowStuff, and so many more like us, will miss Vlado terribly. Our condolences further go out to his family as well as the family of his passenger.

Volumes could be written about Vlado’s kind heart and piloting skill, but we think the best tribute is to simply watch the master pilot work at what he loved. Enjoy the video below, remember the smiles he brought to everyone’s face, and keep ’em flying. Please share your own photos, videos, and memories of Vlado in our forums – we want to see them all as we attempt to process this tremendous loss.

Pilot Killed When Thai Gripen Crashes At Airshow For Children

posted in: Airshows, Military | 1
Royal Thai Air Force Gripen
Photo source: Saab.com

Royal Thai Air Force Squadron Leader Dilokrit Pattavee was killed today when his Saab JAS 35 Gripen impacted the ground following a flyby at Hat Yai in Songkhla Province, Thailand during a Children’s Day celebration. The aircraft appeared to lose control during a maneuver and flew into the ground away from spectators.

The Ministry of Defense is investigating the incident. Both Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-ocha and the RTAF Air Chief Marshal Jom Roongsawang have expressed condolences to the pilot’s family.

The airport was closed following the incident, diverting flights to Krabi airport with outbound flights delayed.

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Sqn. Ldr. Dilokrit Pattavee.

Red Bull Pilot Hannes Arch Dies In Helicopter Accident

posted in: Aerobatics | 1
Hannes Arch - Red Bull Air Race
Photo Credit: Red Bull Air Race

Red Bull Air Race pilot Hannes Arch died last night in a helicopter crash in the mountains of his native Austria. Few details are available at this time, but the Red Bull Air Race Facebook page posted this tribute:

It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of our long-time, close friend Hannes Arch in a private helicopter flight at Carinthia, Austria.

Hannes has been a Red Bull Athlete for over 25 years. The world mainly knew Hannes as an amazingly successful Red Bull Air Race pilot. This was only one of the ways in which his spirit found expression. In younger days he was ranked as one of the world’s leading mountaineers and climbers and was one of the first aerobatic paragliders.

We will miss his warmth, sense of fun and boundless energy. To his family and many other friends, we extend our deepest sympathy.

Hannes was actively competing in the Red Bull Air Race series this year, and holds third place in the 2016 rankings. There are two more races on the 2016 schedule, both in the United States. Both events are expected to go on as planned despite this tremendous loss.

Bearfeat Aerobatics Pilot Randy Harris And Passenger Killed In Crash Near Vance AFB

posted in: Aerobatics | 1

Randy Harris - Bearfeat Aerobatics

Aerobatic pilot Randy Harris, who performed under the label of “Bearfeat Aerobatics”, was killed yesterday when his Skybolt biplane went down near Vance AFB in Oklahoma. His passenger, identified as USAF T-38 instructor pilot 1st Lt. Dale Bryan Shillington, was also killed in the crash. The aircraft was reportedly flying aerobatics when it went out of control and crashed in a field.

Harris was set to perform at the Vance AFB 75th anniversary open house and airshow this weekend, and was giving media rides in advance of the show. Following the crash, the base announced that the show will go on with added tributes to the pilots.

Our thoughts are with the families and friends of both men.

Pilot Killed In Crash At 2016 Cold Lake Airshow

posted in: Airshows, Warbirds | 3
Pilot Bruce Evans
Photo via LinkedIn

Pilot Bruce “Frac” Evans was killed today when his T-28 Trojan crashed while he was performing at the Cold Lake Airshow in Alberta, Canada. The performance was a solo routine and no other performers or spectators were involved. According to the airshow’s website, Bruce was a Geologist and warbird enthusiast with an Airline Transport Pilot Licence, a T-28 Endorsement, and a low level aerobatic clearance to 250’. Throughout his career Bruce accumulated over 4,100 hours of flight time.

The crash happened around 2pm. Witnesses report that the T-28 was performing low level aerobatics when it impacted the ground while in a dive. The remainder of the show was canceled following the incident.

Our thoughts are with Bruce’s family and friends.

Pilot Bill Gordon Killed When P-47 Thunderbolt Crash Lands In Hudson River

posted in: Warbirds | 2

P-47 Thunderbolt Pilot Bill Gordon

Pilot Bill Gordon, former member of the Iron Eagles Aerobatic Team, has died after the WWII-era P-47 Thunderbolt he was piloting crash landed in the Hudson River near New York City. The aircraft was one of three participating in a photo flight near the city and Statue of Liberty on Friday evening to promote this weekend’s airshow at nearby Jones Beach. It came down just a couple of miles from the George Washington bridge after suspected mechanical trouble. The aircraft, “Jacky’s Revenge”, is owned by the American Airpower Museum on Long Island not far outside the city. The airshow will continue as planned this weekend.

Bill Gordon performs as part of the Iron Eagles Aerobatic Team

Adding to the tragedy were initial reports that the pilot was recovered safely and taken to the hospital. These reports were later corrected to state that the pilot was unaccounted for. His body was found in the wreckage by divers later that night. There is no word yet on what will happen to the aircraft, but the NTSB will be investigating the crash.

Our thoughts are with Bill’s family and friends.

Pilot Steve O’Berg Killed In Saturday Crash At Cameron Airshow

posted in: Aerobatics, Airshows | 1

Steve O'Berg Killed in Airshow Crash/O'Berg Airshows

Pilot Steve O’Berg was killed yesterday when his Pitts S-2B biplane crashed while performing at the airshow in Cameron, MO. No spectators were injured. Video of the crash shows the plane entering a spin and descending into a grove of trees before recovering. The airshow was cancelled for the rest of the day as a result of the crash, but it did continue today as a tribute to Steve. Our thoughts are with Steve’s family and friends after this tragic news.