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Pilot killed in air show crash was fixture at Hollister Air Show

Published On: May 05 2014 05:25:54 PM CDT
FAIRFIELD, Calif. -

Investigators trying to determine what caused the crash of a vintage airplane during a stunt at a California air show 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.

Witnesses have said it seemed like a long time before fire crews arrived at the scene of Sunday's crash at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield.

The crash killed 77-year-old pilot Edward Andreini of Half Moon Bay.

Sunday's tragedy brought to a quick halt the "Thunder Over Solano" show at Travis Air Force Base, which was attended by an estimated 100,000 spectators. No one else was injured.

Base spokesman Jim Spellman disputed witness accounts, saying crews were dispatched promptly and responded within a minute or two.

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.

Andreini's website said audiences would be "thrilled at the sight of this huge biplane performing double outside loops, square loops, torque rolls, double snap rolls, and ... a heart-stopping, end-over-end tumble maneuver." It said he had flown since he was 16.

The plane, flying low over the tarmac, crashed and caught fire, letting off a thick plume of black smoke seen in video of the aftermath.

The Hollister Airshow Committee is "deeply saddened by the loss of our friend," Hollister Airshow Director Mike Chambless said Monday.

"Eddie was the quintessential gentleman and loved spending time with aviation enthusiasts and his airshow fans," Chambless said. "Eddie referred to everyone he met as members of his “Airshow Family”. Eddie spent many hours with our local scouts, teaching them about planes and flying."

Chambless said the Hollister Airshow Committee is planning a tribute to Andreini at this year’s airshow.