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Stunt pilot dies during fiery show crash at California air base

- The Washington Times - Monday, May 5, 2014

An experienced stunt pilot who had performed for decades was killed during a show at a Northern California air base after his vintage plane crashed and flipped in front of an estimated 100,000 spectators.

Edward Andreini, 77, died during the "Thunder Over Solano" performance at Travis Air Force Base, a spokesman for the Air Force said, in The Associated Press. He had been piloting a World War II-era biplane that was commonly used to train pilots, AP said.

He was trying to do a maneuver called "cutting a ribbon," when the plane flies so close to the ground that a knife attached to its underbody cuts a stretched ribbon in half. But conditions were windy, and Mr. Andreini had to make a couple of passes before his final attempt. The plane crashed and caught fire, and ultimately slid into an open field, AP said.

"He got down too low and hit the tarmac," said Roger Bockrath, a retired photojournalist who was taking pictures of the show, AP reported. "He skidded about 500 feet and just sat there. The plane was essentially intact, just wrong side down."

Mr. Bockrath also said it took 2½ minutes before somebody arrived at the plane with a fire extinguisher — but by then, the craft was fully engulfed in flames, AP reported. It took 5 minutes before a full fire crew arrived, he said.

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