A North American T-28C Trojan single engine aircraft (N688GR), part of the Trojan Horsemen Warbird Formation Acrobatic Team, flown by John W. Mangan, who was also known as “Jack Flash”, of Concord, NC crashed on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 2:40 p.m. EDT during a flight demonstration at the Thunder Over the Blue Ridge open house and air show in Martinsburg, West Virginia as reported by the Aero News Network, KHOU-TV, the Martinsburg Journal, Reuters News Service, and other sources on Saturday, September 17, 2011.
The 1958 aircraft was part of a six-plane formation from the T-28 Warbird Aerobatic Formation Demonstration Team based in Cincinnati, Ohio, and had taken part in a tribute to the military demonstration.
According to media reports, the accident occurred when two of the aircraft, flying in opposite directions, passed and separated, with the westbound aircraft losing control, rolling over and crashing on the runway in front of hangars in a fiery explosion which destroyed the plane and killed the pilot, as seen in the attached slide show and video clip which accompany this report.
It was the second fatal air show crash in as many days. On Friday, September 17, 2011, a North American P-51D Mustang flown by Jimmy Leeward, had crashed at the National Championship Air Races at Reno Stead Airport (RTS) in Nevada, killing the pilot and 8 spectators, and injuring about 75 others, at least 25 of them critically.
The most recent incident on Saturday caused the event to cancel its flight schedule and shut down.
John Mangan, the pilot, was an alternate wing team member of the Trojan Horsemen. He graduated from the United States Air Force Academy and spent 13 years on active duty, flying more than 2,500 hours in McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagles and F-4 Phantom II jets.
His honors include three Meritorious Service Medals, and the Tactical Air Command’s Instructor Pilot of the Year award. In addition, he logged more than 4,000 flight hours and holds Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) and sailplane ratings.
The tragedy shook the crowd of spectators, and the event’s organizers, who were mindful of the devastating incident the previous day in Reno, NV.
According to Major General James Hoyer, adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard, “We were fortunate that the safety measures put in place by the Federal Aviation Administration ensured the safety of those on the ground. Right now our thoughts and prayers are with the family members of the deceased.”
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be investigating the incident to determine what caused the fatal crash.
The T-28 Trojan is a piston-engined military trainer aircraft used by the United States Air Force and United States Navy beginning in the 1950s. Besides its use as a trainer, the T-28 was also employed as a Counter-insurgency (COIN) aircraft, primarily during the Vietnam War.
A total of 1,948 of the planes were produced between 1950 to 1958, primarily used by the United States Air Force, United States Navy, South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF), and the French Air Force (ALA).
The war bird uses a Wright R-1820-86 Cyclone radial engine, which develops 1,425 horse power, can attain a maximum speed of 343 mph, has a service ceiling of 39,000 feet, and a rate of climb of 4,000 feet per minutes.
We send our condolences to the family, friends, and fellow airmen of the extraordinary pilot who was killed in this accident.
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