Walker killed in Florida plane crash
Posted By By Greg EnglandStaff Writergreg@myspartanews.comOriginally Published: Monday, March 28, 2011 8:49 AM | March 31, 2011 12:00 am
William (Bill) E. Walker, 58, Cookeville businessman and owner of Upper Cumberland Regional Airport’s Fixed Base Operator, Region Air, was killed, on Mar. 26, while performing maneuvers at the Wings over Flagler air show in Bunnell, Fla., located approximately 25 miles north of Daytona Beach.
Walker was performing as part of the Red Thunder Air Show team when the 1983 Aerostar YAK-52 Russian military trainer aircraft he was piloting failed to come out of a dive and crashed approximately 30 minutes before the scheduled end of the air show’s first day.
Witnesses reported the plane just flew straight into the ground after coming out of a loop.
Walker had already performed the same routine twice that day before tragedy struck.
He was a seasoned pilot with 30 years and nearly 4,000 hours of flying experience.
“He was just a super nice guy, very aviation savvy, and anyone that knew him or had ever flown with him knew that his skill level was second to none,” stated UCRA Manager Jim Kmet. “He was very, very skilled as a pilot.”
He said Walker was a driving force for the air show at the airport, having been a past chairman of the local airport authority, and was a huge contributor to the aviation society.
Walker and his team were scheduled to perform at the upcoming show at Upper Cumberland Regional Airport.
“Bill has been an inspiration and a great leader in everything we’ve tried to undertake at the airport,” stated current Airport Board Chairman Hoyte Jones. “It’s gonna be a great loss to the airport and the entire community. And I’d like for people to pray for the family, who have suffered the loss of a wonderful man.”
Walker left behind a wife and three grown children.
Kmet said arrangements for Walker are incomplete at this time as Walker’s family struggles with their tremendous loss.
An investigation is now underway into the cause of the crash by officials with National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration.