May 5, 2014 10:22 PM by Victoria Johnson, KSBY News
An air show ends in tragedy in northern California. Thousands of people watch as a biplane slams into the ground. The 77 year old pilot, who had been flying since he was just 16, was killed. It happened yesterday at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield.
Eddie Andreini of Half Moon Bay was a veteran aerobatic pilot and he had connections to the Central Coast.
He performed in the Santa Maria Air Show in 2012 and was slated to fly in this year's air shows in Santa Maria and Paso Robles. Friends say he was a true professional and experienced pilot, one who will be missed.
"You are losing a good friend," said Michael Geddry, Andreini's friend and Director of the Thunder Over the Valley Air Show in Santa Maria.
Geddry met Andreini eight years ago and have been friends ever since.
"That is not just a friend. He treated you like you are family," said Geddry.
Andreini was a professional pilot and has been flying since he was 16. He dazzled crowds for the past 25 years with his flips and spins.
"Air shows are like car races. You don't talk about the bad side. You plan for it, but don't talk about it," said Geddry.
But Sunday's air show took a turn for the worse when Andreini's biplane crashed into the ground while doing stunts.
"He practiced for the worst case scenario and unfortunately it happened," said Geddry.
The FAA has strict guidelines for air shows, where safety is stressed. The FAA and NTSB are investigating how this could have happened.
"Whether it is mechanical failure, weather, or pilot error," said Geddry.
But the day after, it's too soon to tell what caused the crash.
As for Geddry, he says this year won't be the same, but the show must go on.
"It leaves a void. You get up in the morning and you don't feel like it is the same anymore. You have to reexamine what went wrong and make sure history doesn't repeat itself," said Geddry.
No one else was injured during Sunday's crash. Directors of the Santa Maria and Paso Robles Air Shows say there haven't been any accidents or deaths at their shows. Both say they will miss having Andreini perform on the Central Coast later this year.
Flyers for the Santa Maria Air Show have been printed with Andreini's name as a top performer. Geddry says they will now dedicate part of the show to Andreini.
The Thunder Over the Valley Air Show in Santa Maria is August 23rd and 24th.
The Warbirds Over Paso Air Show is November first.
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