MADRAS, Ore. (KOIN) — An experienced pilot plunged to his death at the Airshow of the Cascades in Madras Saturday afternoon as hundreds of people witnessed the crash, some of whom captured it on cell phones.
Marcus Paine had done the same maneuver Friday night in his Stearman biplane, but something obviously went wrong at the end of his first acrobatic loop. The 61-year-old had been a pilot for more than 20 years and was a flying instructor, according to the air show’s website.
The website also noted Paine lived in Anchorage, had extensive military experience and had been a pilot for more than 20 years whose flight school teaches aerobatic flight, stall and spin awareness and other topics.
Doug Bonfield, who witnessed the crash, was a member of the military and a crew chief of B-52s and fighters. He said he could tell Paine was in trouble.
“He pulled it up, had a ground effect, and started his vertical and came over the top. And I was just looking at it, like, that don’t look good,” Bonfield told KOIN 6 News. “He came down way low, looked like he pulled the nose up, the tail caught, rolled it over, looked like he ripped the wings off the right side.”
The performance coordinator for the air show, Don Mobley, said Paine was very well-liked in the air show community and was an active instructor who did a lot of back country flying.
“I’ve known him for several years, and he’s a real competent pilot,” Mobley said. “That first maneuver he was doing was one he had done real successfully, so we were surprised he had a problem on that. … To have an accident like this is real uncommon.”
The FAA is trying to analyze what went wrong with the move Paine did hundreds of times. An FAA investigator was at the show at the time of the crash and began looking into the circumstances immediately.
Ryan Grote with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office wants anyone with video of the crash to contact their department.
“My understanding is he loved to pilot planes and it’s a true loss to all his family and his friends,” said the Madras Police Chief Tanner Stanfill.
Paine was the only person on board. No one on the ground at the Madras Municipal Airport was hurt.