Trojan Horsemen Flight Demonstration Team diverted to another airstrip after crash

September 17, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • One of the six members of the Trojan Horseman Flight Demonstration Team taxies down the runway in a T-28 Trojan Warbird before take-off during the Thunder over the Blue Ridge Air Show at the 167th Airlift wing, Shepherd Field Martinsburg, W.Va.
By Chris Tilley/Staff Photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Pilots participating in a Saturday afternoon maneuver at the Thunder Over the Blue Ridge Air Show in which one of their teammates was killed had their aircraft diverted to another airstrip.

"Those pilots are being provided assistance related to the event by our chaplains," said Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, adjutant general of the West Virginia Air National Guard.

Contact information for counselors able to assist spectators who witnessed the crash can be found at

"It's obviously a traumatic event, and we're going to continue to make available all the support we can," Hoyer said.

In printed materials about the air show, the Ohio-based Trojan Horsemen Flight Demonstration Team is described as the only six ship T-28 Warbird Formation Aerobatics Demo Team in the world. The show's program says the team's performance, "Salute to the Armed Forces of the United States," would be a routine choreographed to patriotic music recognizing all five branches of the armed forces and paying tribute to veterans who died.

"The team flies six restored North American T-28 Trojan Warbird aircraft with growling 1425 HP radial engines, smoke systems, and authentic U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy/Marine paint schemes that contributes to the patriotic theme," the program states.

The 14-member team includes former military fighter pilots, instructors, airline pilots and civilian air show pilots with more than 200 years combined experience.

The T-28 was developed following World War II, with modified models used through the 1960s and 1970s.

On Saturday night, officials detonated pyrotechnics that were on site for use in the performance.

Hoyer said safety always was a top priority for event organizers, with special emphasis on crowd safety in effect after a Friday night crash at a Reno, Nev., air race killed at least nine people. He said Federal Aviation Administration guidelines dictate how far demonstrations should occur from spectators.

"We followed to the letter the requirements laid out by FAA," Hoyer said.

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