Plane Flew As Part Of 'Hoppers' Jet Team
ANN Realtime Update 09.02.2012 1445 EDT
Authorities have released the name of the pilot who was fatally injured when an L39 went down at the Quad-City Air Show Saturday.
The Quad-City Times reports that the pilot was Glenn A. Smith of Frisco, TX. The Warbird Education Foundation lists Smith as its director.
Smith, who was known by the call-sign 'Skids', began flying 24 years ago, according to the Hoppers Jet Team website. He held commercial and instrument ratings. Smith had accumulated some 2,000 hours of flying time, about 600 of that in jets. He was the newest member of the Hoppers Jet Team, according to the site, which indicates he was qualified to fly his personal PT-17 Stearman, as well T-37 Tweets, of which only two are known to be flying, MiG-17s, L-39s, and Super Cubs.
It looks to be another tough weekend for the aviation community. ANN is monitoring reports of an L39 Albatros jet aircraft's crash at the 2012 Quad City Airshow in Iowa.
The pilot, as yet unnamed, is reported to have been killed in the crash, as he flew as part of a three ship L39 jet formation routine at this year's show. The accident occurred at approximately 1325 local time, and the show continued, in a limited fasion, some time later with a proper salute to the fallen aviator. The impact area was located near a field close to the Eastern Iowa Industrial Center in northern Davenport.
The show was fighting rain and some inclement weather earlier in the day, but conditions improved sufficiently to allow the show to start shortly before noon.
The Hoppers Jet Team has a stated mission to, "Educate the general public, inspire kids to work hard in school and aim high in life, have fun." The team is reportedly comprised of as many as five aircraft, though reports indicate that only three were in the air for today's show.
According to Davenport’s Assistant Police Chief Don Schaeffer, the aircraft was plane was making a 45-degree bank and failed to recover before impact. The impact was catastrophic, was followed by a large fireball and is thought to have been unsurvivable.
The Hoppers Jet team is know, most particularly, for its outreach to kids... According to the team site, "The Key To Our Mission is interacting with the kids at airshows. The Hoppers have been blessed through hard work and a little luck to be in a position to fly these planes. When a kid comes up to us at an airshow with their eyes lit up because they are close to a jet, we love it. OUR GOAL is for kids to gain an appreciation of what these jets are all about and to walk away thinking 'I could do that too. All I have to do is work hard in school and think BIG!'"
ANN will keep you apprised as to any further details... and sends our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the Hoppers team.