The United States Air Force Thunderbirds are returning to air show performances for the first time since a deadly crash in April.
The Thunderbirds announced over social media of their upcoming performances May 18-20 at AirPower over Hampton Roads at Join Base Langley Eustis in Virginia. This will be the first public performance since Maj. Stephen Del Bagno’s death April 4. Bagno flew Thunderbirds No. 4 jet in the six-aircraft jet team.
He died in a crash over the Nevada desert.
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The deadly crash came months after another mishap with the Thunderbirds at the Dayton International Airport in late June. A crash occurred on June 23 prior to the Dayton Air Show, and injured Pilot Capt. Erik Gonsalves and Tactical Aircraft Maintainer Staff Sgt. Kenneth Cordova. The F-16 sustained significant damage, and the Thunderbirds cancelled all performances at the air show.
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Air shows can be risky for performers. Approximately 52 percent of civil air show crashes that occurred from 1993 to 2013 involved at least one fatality, according to FAA’s General Aviation and Air Taxi Survey and the National Transportation Safety Board data. The data studied 174 civil air show crashes.
Here are seven other air show accidents that shocked spectators and the aviation industry in recent years:
A wingwalker and her pilot died in a fiery plane crash in 2013 as they performed in front of thousands at the Vectren Dayton Air Show, the second fatal crash in six years at the show. The 450 HP Stearman biplane carrying wingwalker Jane Wicker, 46, and pilot Charlie Schwenker, 64, was the third act of the show, performing near show center at Dayton International Airport when the crash happened around 12:45 p.m. READ THE FULL STORY
In 2007, aerobatic pilot Jim LeRoy failed to maintain clearance from the ground during an acrobatics routine and crashed his 400-horsepower, single-seat biplane, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The safety board found that “smoke oil” present in the air where the performers were flying also contributed to the crash.
LeRoy’s yellow Bulldog Pitts continued from a spiral spin into the ground, slid 300 feet and burst into flames. LeRoy was part of a two-plane aerobatics team known as Codename: Mary’s Lamb. LeRoy was killed on impact. SEE PHOTOS OF DAYTON AIR SHOW CRASH
An Army parachutist died after being injured during a jump at the Chicago Air & Water Show in 2015. Sgt. First Class Corey Hood, 32, of Cincinnati, died at Northwestern Memorial Hospital one day after he was critically injured when he struck an apartment building and fell to the ground following a mid-air collision with another parachutist above the Lake Michigan shore, the Chicago Tribune reported.
A stunt in 2016 at an airshow at Dekalb-Peachtree Airport in Georgia ended in twisted metal, flame and a veteran pilot dead. Pilot Greg Connell, of South Carolina, crashed and died Saturday during an airshow at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport. The event, which drew vintage aircraft as well as specially designed stunt planes, was called the Good Neighbor Day Air Show. READ THE FULL STORY
Louisville aerobatic pilot Jay “Flash” Gordon died in a Tennessee plane crash in 2015. He was flying a high-performance Russian jet at an air show near Knoxville, the Louisville Courier Journal reported. He was an “air quality pioneer who used flight to champion math and science with young people while giving generously to local institutions, friends and acquaintances recalled on Monday.” READ THE FULL STORY
An experienced pilot died in a biplane crash in August 2016 at the Airshow of The Cascades in Madras, Oregon. Marcus Bruce Paine, 61, was flying a Boeing Stearman biplane and crashed, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. The plane was doing a very low-altitude loop with a smoke trail, and about three-quarters of the way around the loop when Paine tried to pull up. The bottom of the plane still hit the ground, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
A 47-year-old pilot died in 2014 when his plane crashed while performing in an air show at Stevens Point Municipal Airport in Wisconsin, police said. The plane was conducting aerial maneuvers during an aerobatics portion of the biennial air show when it crashed into a wooded area about 1,000 feet east of the airport runway, the Pioneer Press reported.
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