DETROIT — A Michigan wing walker who fell to his death after trying to grab a helicopter’s skid while standing on the fuselage of a small plane had performed the same manoeuvr successfully a number of times, according to a stunt pilot and former wing walker who once worked with him.
“He’s only one of two people to ever do that,” Kyle Franklin said of Todd Green. “He was very good at it. I’ve seen him do that many, many times.
“He was always on spot and did a very good job with everything he did.”
Green died Sunday after falling 200 feet (60 metres) from the plane during an annual air show at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township, about 20 miles (32 kilometres) northeast of Detroit. His death came a day after two pilots died in separate crashes at air shows in Missouri and England.
Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board investigators were at the Michigan base Monday looking into the cause of Green’s fall, said Technical Sgt. Dan Heaton, a base spokesman.
Green had performed the same stunt Saturday, Heaton said.
About 75,000 spectators were at the show Sunday, and scores saw Green fall.
“We’ll be working closely with the FAA as well as our internal safety personal to determine any future formats” for the show, he added.
The air show began Friday and ended Sunday.
The FAA said Monday that the agency could not release any details yet about Green’s death.
Green was the son of prominent aerial stuntman Eddie Green, Franklin said. He last performed with Todd Green in 2009 and described him as experienced and skilled.
“He was an excellent stuntman and had been around for years,” Franklin said. “I grew up kind of watching him wing walk from time to time.
“He enjoyed it very much. He did get a thrill out of it. Most of us in this business aren’t necessarily adrenaline junkies. We do it because we love performing, being in front of a crowd and entertaining them. Todd was extremely good at what he did.”
Franklin also was mourning the two pilots killed Saturday.
Stunt pilot Bryan Jensen crashed while performing loops and spirals at the Kansas City Aviation Air Show.
Lt. John Egging, a pilot with the British military’s elite Red Arrows aerobatic display team, died when his jet crashed after participating in an air show in southern England.
“We are a very close knit family,” Franklin said. “Whenever we lose one of our close friends … it really hits you hard.”