Eddie Andreini was performing an aerial maneuver that was a staple of his routine when his Super Stearman biplane crashed at the “Thunder Over Solano” air show at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield on Sunday afternoon, a National Transportation Safety Board spokesman said this morning.
Andreini, 77, of Half Moon Bay, died in the 2 p.m. crash at the air show attended by about 85,000 people. The NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash.
Travis Air Force Base fire crews responded to the crash that closed the air show before its scheduled 5:30 p.m. finish. Andreini was pronounced dead at the scene.
NTSB spokesman Howard Plagens said the focus today is factual documentation of the site and recovery of the wreckage, which will then be examined at a secure location.
Plagens said Andreini was performing “a low-level inverted pass to cut a ribbon” when he crashed.
The stunt in the restored 1944 Super Stearman biplane was part of the repertoire Andreini performed at air shows along the West Coast.
The plane had an inverted fuel and oil system that allowed it to perform unnatural maneuvers, according to Andreini’s website, eddieandreiniairshows.com.
Smoke generators were mounted on the wings and oil was injected into the biplane’s engine exhaust system to create smoke.
Andreini was feted at a dinner April 26 on the eve of the Pacific Coast Dream Show at Half Moon Bay Airport, said Tim Beeman, an organizer of the show.
Beeman said Andreini was “a wonderful, generous, gracious man and absolute pillar and leader in the Half Moon Bay community, contributing to countless causes in his own quiet way.”
Andreini was recently named to the International Council of Air Shows Hall of Fame and was one of the top stunt pilots in the world, Beeman said.
Andreini did not perform at the Pacific Coast Dream Machines Show on April 27, but was scheduled to perform at the Hollister Air Show on May 25-26 and at the Watsonville Air Show on Aug. 30-Sept. 1.
James Lanaras. Bay City News