May 5, 2014 3:30 PM
Aviation enthusiasts in the north state have probably seen a performance by Edward Andreini, the man who died after crashing his vintage biplane during an air show at Travis Air Force Base Sunday.
Andreini, 77, has performed airshows in both Chico, Redding and other Northern California locations for decades.
Andreini was trying to perform a maneuver known as "cutting a ribbon" where he inverts the plane and flies close to the ground so that a knife attached to it can slice a ribbon just off the ground, Col. David Mott, 60th Operations Group commander at the base, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
The plane, flying low over the tarmac, crashed and caught fire, letting off a thick plume of black smoke seen in videos of the aftermath.
Roger Bockrath, a retired photojournalist who was photographing the afternoon show, chronicled the routine and witnessed the crash. He said Andreini, flying into a sometimes gusty wind, passed on two attempts before trying a third time, hitting the tarmac and sliding to a stop in an open field.
"He got down too low and hit the tarmac. He skidded about 500 feet and just sat there. The plane was essentially intact, just wrong side down," Bockrath told The Sacramento Bee.
Bockrath said nearly 2 1/2 minutes went by before someone appeared with a fire extinguisher. By then, the aircraft was fully enflamed and collapsing from the heat. He said it took a total of five minutes before fire crews arrived.
NTSB investigators trying to what caused the crash say they will start by examining the wreckage and ground scars.
Howard Plagens of the National Transportation Safety Board said Monday that his team will also look at the time it took emergency crews to respond.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved