Pilot Killed in W. Virginia Air Show Crash - NBC4 Washington

Pilot Killed in W. Virginia Air Show Crash



    The pilot of a propeller-driven plane died during an aerial acrobatic performance on Saturday. (Published Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011)

    A civilian pilot was killed in a plane crash at an air show in West Virginia Saturday afternoon.

    Investigators say the aircraft was a T-28, performing an acrobatic demonstration around 2:30 p.m. for spectators at the Thunder Over the Blue Ridge and Air Show held at Shepherd Field in Martinsburg.

    Lt. Nathan Muiller, spokesperson for the 167th Air Wing of the WV National Guard, said no spectators were injured in the crash. The aircraft went down a distance from the audience, which was able to witness the crash.

    The aircraft was part of the Warbird Aerobatic Demonstration Team, which performs around the country.  The fixed-wing T-28 plane is registered to John Mangan of Concord, N.C., and was built in 1958, according to an FAA registry. Calls to an FAA office for West Virginia by the Associated Press were not immediately returned Sunday.

    News4 photographer Joe Cassano was attending the air show with his family.  "It went from being full of excitement to just shock," Cassano said.  "It kind of had a movie quality to it."

    "We were fortunate that the safety measures put in place by the Federal Aviation Administration ensured the safety of those on the ground," Air National Guard Gen. James Hoyer said in a statement. "Right now our thoughts and prayers are with the family members of the deceased."

    Officials did not immediately name the identity of the pilot, waiting on notification of next of kin.  Organizers canceled the remaining events scheduled for the two-day air show.

    The T-28 is a propeller-driven single engine plane first produced in 1949. The aircraft was originally produced as a training plane but later models were fitted with armaments and served in an attack role.

    The accident in Martinsburg comes one day after a plane crash at a Reno air race killed at least 9 and injured many more.

    The incident is under investigation by federal and local authorities.