- Associated Press - Sunday, June 28, 2015

CAMERON, Mo. (AP) - A pilot has died from injuries sustained when his biplane crashed as he was performing at a northwest Missouri airshow, authorities said Sunday.

The Cameron Police Department identified the pilot as Steven O’Berg, 50, of Smithville, and said his family was asking for privacy to “grieve their loss.” O’Berg’s Pitts S2-B biplane went down around 1:50 p.m. Saturday during what police described as a “routine aerial performance.” Police said he was taken to a hospital, where he died.

Julie Harper, O’Berg’s sister, described the loss as “devastating” in a statement released through the Overland Park, Kansas, Fire Department, where she works as a battalion chief.

“Steve’s passion was flying,” the statement said. “In fact, one of his earliest childhood memories was of flying with our father and brother when he was a very small boy, over 40 years ago. Steve was a skilled pilot with more than 30 years of flying experience in both military and private aviation and flew both fixed and rotor wing aircraft. Steve loved to share his passion for aviation, which is why performing at local airshows gave him great pride. As you can imagine, this sudden loss is extremely difficult for our family to absorb.”

The Cameron Airshow’s Facebook site described the pilot as “family” and said in a post that the full show would go on Sunday.

“We do this show because we love to fly, we love to entertain, we love to celebrate life,” Sunday’s post said. “That’s what we’re going to do today.”

The phone number for airshow organizer Eric Evans, who also manages the Cameron Memorial Airport, rang unanswered Sunday.

Marvin McKelvy, of Centralia, told The Kansas City Star that the pilot performed leaps, torque rolls and a figure-eight maneuver called “Cuban eights” before the crash. The pilot was about 10 minutes into his routine when he ran into trouble. The plane flew straight up before kicking over into a spin, which is done with the engine idling, McKelvy said. As the plane dropped, it appeared the pilot wanted to regain speed by diving at a 45-degree down angle, McKelvy said. But the plane was too low.

As McKelvy watched with his wife and another couple, he said: “He’s not going to make it.”

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating.

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