FAIRFIELD — A pilot who crashed and died while performing a stunt at a Northern California air show had recently passed a skills test that included his flying routines, the head of an air show trade association said.
International Council of Air Shows’ President John Cudahy said the 77-year-old Eddie Andreini passed the test just a few weeks before Sunday’s crash. Cudahy told the Sacramento Bee that Andreini was tested in over 60 areas and was judged to be mentally and physically fit for the stunts he performed.
Andreini was flying upside-down and low to the ground in an acrobatic maneuver during the “Thunder Over Solano” air show. His vintage biplane hit the ground and burst into flames.
Howard Plagens of the National Transportation Safety Board said his team is trying to determine what caused the crash, starting with an examination of the wreckage and ground scars. They will also review the amount of time it took for emergency crews to respond.
Witnesses said it seemed like a long time before fire crews arrived at the scene of the crash at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield and wondered if the pilot died on impact or from the ensuing fire. Base spokesman Jim Spellman said crews were dispatched promptly and responded within a minute or two.
None of an estimated 85,000 spectators was injured.
Federal Aviation Administration records show Andreini was the registered owner of the 1944 Stearman biplane, a World War II-era plane commonly used to train pilots.
Andreini was trying to perform a maneuver known as “cutting a ribbon” where the inverted plane flies close to the ground so a knife attached to it can slice a ribbon.
In the investigation, Plagens said his team will review videos of the crash, environmental factors and the pilot.