A pilot killed in a plane crash while performing in an air show at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield Sunday afternoon has been identified as a 77-year-old Half Moon Bay man, Col. David Mott of Travis Air Force Base said.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Mr. Eddie Andreini,” Mott told reporters at a news conference at the military base Sunday evening.
“Mr. Andreini had been flying since he was 16 years old and performing in air shows for the last 25 years,” he said.
The veteran pilot was performing an “acrobatic aerial maneuver” in his open-cockpit Stearman biplane around 2:05 p.m. during the Travis Air Force Base Thunder Over Solano air show when the 1944 Stearman biplane crashed, according to Mott.
The World War II-era aircraft was commonly used to train pilots.
Col. David Mott, 60th Operations Group commander at the base said the plane was trying to perform a maneuver known as “cutting a ribbon” where it inverts and flies close to the ground so that a knife attached to the plane can slice a ribbon just off the ground.
Angie Giles, a spectator from Antioch, said the plane “flipped over to do a trick and hit the ground and dragged over the ground.”
The colonel said the plane was upside down and “fairly close to the ground” when it crashed and burned. Travis Air Force Base fire crews responded and pronounced Andreini dead at the scene.
The crash occurred far away from the tens of thousands of people in attendance at the air show, and no spectators were injured, according to base officials. Pilots of both civilian and military aircraft had been performing various aerial maneuvers before a crowd of people when the crash occurred, base spokeswoman Rachel Martinez said.
According to base public affairs representatives, about 85,000 people attended the air show on Saturday. Mott said just as many people, if not more, were believed to have been at Sunday’s show.
The deadly crash prompted the air force base to shut down and cancel the remainder of the show, which was scheduled to end at 5:30 p.m.
Mott said winds at the time of crash measured at about 10 to 15 nautical miles, and that he didn’t know whether wind played a role in the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash, he said.
Fairfield police temporarily shut down eastbound lanes of Air Base Parkway at Peabody Road to provide traffic control in the area. The intersection has since reopened.
The “Thunder Over Solano” air show last took place at the military base three years ago, Martinez said.
Andreini’s website advertising his air show says “your audience will be thrilled at the sight of this huge biplane performing double outside loops, square loops, torque rolls, double snap rolls, and ... a heart-stopping, end-over-end tumble maneuver.”
The crash comes one week after another fatal mid-air plane crash during Half Moon Bay’s annual Dream Machines event. Two pilots collided over San Pablo Bay and 33-year-old David Everett Plumb was found deceased several days later.
Base officials are requesting any photos or video footage of the crash taken by people at the air show to assist with the investigation. Anyone with images of the accident is asked to call (707) 424-2000 for further instructions.