U.S.

Calif. Plane Crash Kills Well-Known Air Show Pilot

Eddie Andreini died in Sunday's crash. Many witnesses wondered whether the response to the 77-year-old pilot's crash was quick enough.

Calif. Plane Crash Kills Well-Known Air Show Pilot
YouTube / John Lathrop
SMS

A long and undeniably daring life ended in front of tens of thousands of people Sunday as a stunt pilot's plane crashed into the ground while inverted at a California air show. The pilot was 77-year-old Eddie Andreini.

DA LIN, KPIX REPORTER: "The plane landed upside down. First, it was white smoke. Then later, black smoke and flames pouring out of the aircraft. First responders could not save Andreini."

ASHLEIGH CARTER, ANDREINI FAMILY FRIEND: "He was doing great up until that point, and I know he's been doing it for years."

MATTHEW CARTER, ANDREINI FAMILY FRIEND: "Several minutes passed before the flames happened. They started in the rear section and worked forward, and that was that." (Via KNTV)

This is raw video of the crash. Andreini was trying to do a stunt with his Stearman biplane cutting a ribbon hovering just above the ground. The air show's announcer even mentioned it looked like Andreini inverted a little early just before he crashed. (Via YouTube / John Lathrop)

People who attended the air show at Travis Air Force Base northeast of San Francisco wondered if Andreini had to die. One photographer on scene said it took about two-and-a-half minutes before someone got to Andreini's plane with a fire extinguisher and five minutes for actual fire crews to get to him.

Fox News quoted the photographer saying, "He should be in the hospital with second-degree burns and smoke inhalation. Instead, he's at the coroner's office. It's shocking to me how long it took. I'm still rattled by it."

ASHLEIGH CARTER, FRIEND OF ANDREINI FAMILY: "The announcer was saying, 'Oh, yeah. They've practiced this, so everybody stay where you are.' And we're wondering, you've practiced for this, but where are you?" (Via KTVU)

Andreini was well known to fellow pilots and on the air show circuit, which he flew for more than 25 years.

Andreini was inducted to the International Council of Air Shows Hall of Fame just last year. (Via Pacific Coast Dream Machines)

In a blog post by Tim and Evan Brand, Andreini explained he first learned to fly when he was just 16. He also bought his first plane with money from working on his dad's farm or fixing cars on the weekends. (Via Vimeo / TimnEvan)

He said, "​My mom was okay with me flying, but not my dad. He thought it was crazy risky.  When I bought the airplane, my dad threatened to ‘chop the airplane up’ if he ever found it. He offered my best friend Jo-Jo $75 if he’d tell him where the plane was, but Jo-Jo never did." (Via EvanFlys.com)

No spectators were hurt in the crash, and the NTSB is looking for a cause. An Air Force colonel at the base noted winds were less than 20 miles per hour at the time of Andreini's crash.