NC pilot reportedly killed in second deadly air show crash

Posted September 18, 2011 8:03 a.m. EDT
Updated September 18, 2011 8:23 a.m. EDT

— 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 ( 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."