News

NC pilot reportedly killed in second deadly air show crash

Posted September 18, 2011

— A North Carolina pilot reportedly died in the second deadly air show crash in 24 hours, as an aerobatic demonstration plane plunged into a runway and exploded while spectators at West Virginia air show Saturday looked on.

Thousands of people were watching from a distance, but no one was injured when a T-28 fixed-wing plane in a civilian aerobatics group wobbled and crashed, authorities said. Many in the crowd hugged each other and cried after seeing the aircraft appear to disintegrate in a fireball.

The fixed-wing, single-engine aircraft was part of a T-28 acrobatic team that tours the nation performing in air shows, including the Thunder Over the Blue Ridge airshow this weekend at an airport near Martinsburg, according to Gen. James Hoyer, West Virginia Air National Guard adjutant.

Hoyer declined to immediately identify the pilot, saying next-of-kin were being notified. 

WBTV reports that John Mangan, a businessman from Cornelius, N.C., was flying the plane and was killed in the crash. The plane, built in 1958, is registered to Mangan, according to an FAA registry.

Jack "Flash" Mangan is listed as a member of the T-28 Warbird Aerobatic Formation Demonstration Team, nicknamed the Trojan Horsemen, which was performing as part of the show put on by the 167th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard.

His biography on the team's website says he is a former Air Force fighter pilot who won three Meritorious Service Medals and Tactical Air Command's Instructor Pilot of the Year.

Calls to an FAA office for West Virginia and to Mangan's North Carolina home by The Associated Press were not immediately returned Sunday.

The Journal of Martinsburg (http://bit.ly/nJ268P) reports the aircraft lost control during a six-plane stunt formation and then crashed on a runway near hangers at the airfield, causing thousands at the show to cry, hug and pray afterward.

The paper said a National Transportation Safety Board investigator was expected to arrive later in the day Sunday as part of the investigation and a news conference was expected later Sunday afternoon.

The rest of the air show, including Sunday's planned performances, were canceled.

According to The Boeing Co.'s website, the North American T-28 Trojan was a basic trainer that was used by the U.S Navy, including for carrier operation. Its first flight was in 1949, and it was designed to transition pilots to jet aircraft.

Meanwhile, air show officials posted a notice on their website encouraging those who witnessed the crash to seek support if they felt viewing it had been traumatic.

The crash occurred a day after a stunt pilot crashed at a Nevada air race Friday, killing at least nine and injuring dozens more.

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

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  • mmtlash Sep 19, 2011

    "anyone who goes to or participates in these circus side shows has a death wish. so when it happens, don't whine about it. you asked for it."
    -YouMakeItSoEasy

    wow great attitude....

  • michaelclay Sep 19, 2011

    warbirdlover, I totally agree. Most of us don't know anything about flying, but there is always someone who has probablay never been on an airplane of any kind trying to tell the world what is best.

  • warbirdlover Sep 19, 2011

    anyone who goes to or participates in these circus side shows has a death wish. so when it happens, don't whine about it. you asked for it.

    Evidently you know little about aviation. Safety is the top priority period. This was purly anaccident. Accidents happen every day. Why is this anymore dangerous than Car Racing. I have been to at least 100 air shows in the past 45 years and have only seen 1 pilot whom crashed. I love aviation, this is no differnt than a car show with racing. What about that Off Road racer that accidently went into the crowd and 10 people were killed. The spectators and the pilots know the risk. You can't live your life affraid of your own shadow. Life is a risk. Heck you take your own life in your hands everytime you get onto public highways and have a better chance of being killed there than at an Airshow. People need to quit commenting on subjects they have no knowlege about.

  • Screw WrAl Sep 19, 2011

    "Ok...so why is WRAL publishing this.."

    can't wait to hear the answer to that. i know why, but don't count on hearing it from them.

  • Screw WrAl Sep 19, 2011

    anyone who goes to or participates in these circus side shows has a death wish. so when it happens, don't whine about it. you asked for it.

  • buford Sep 19, 2011

    Hoyer declined to immediately identify the pilot, saying next-of-kin were being notified.

    WBTV reports that John Mangan, a businessman from Cornelius, N.C., was flying the plane and was killed in the crash. The plane, built in 1958, is registered to Mangan, according to an FAA registry.

    Ok...so why is WRAL publishing this..the General said they were not releasing the pilots name pending notification of next of kin...just because another news source stated the identity, doesn't mean WRAL has too...geesh...a little respect please...

  • warbirdlover Sep 19, 2011

    Why do accidents like this get so blown out of proportion. Just like the tragic accident in Reno. Accidents happen every day. People get killed doing all sorts of sports. Do people think these pilots got up that morning and said I think I will crash today, because I have nothing better to do??? Just last friday a gentleman got killed at the Rockingham Dragway. Most people could not pass the flight Physical these pilots go through.