It’s been a year since aerobatic pilot Andrew Wright was fatally injured after his carbon fiber Giles 202 plane crashed during a practice flight on Aug. 28, one day before he was to perform at the New York Air Show at Stewart International Airport.
He was about two minutes into his routine when onlookers, mostly reporters and photographers there for media day, saw his plane go down into a nearby field.
His death is still under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), but the preliminary report, consistent with photographs taken during the fall, says it was most likely due to the plane’s tail separating from the body. The tail was found about 1,500 ft. from the rest of the plane, the preliminary report says.
A representative for the NTSB could not give an estimate for when the investigation would be complete, but said they usually take up to a year and a half.
Flying with Wright
Having flown with Wright the day before his crash, Aug. 28 is still fresh in my memory.
People close to him will tell you he loved to share his passion for flying, and he also liked to capture his aerobatic exploits on camera. One of his friends sent me the video he took while we were flying that day.
It’s as bitter as it is sweet to relive that moment.
I could feel the exhilaration of flying again—doing all manner of wild spins, loops, rolls, and things I don’t know the name of. But it feels like watching a movie in which you know the unhappy ending, and the main character was someone you knew.
I can see by his Facebook page that I’m not the only one remembering Andrew at this time. Several people posted on his timeline for National Aviation Day, Aug. 20.
His friend Glenn Watson, who was a photographer at the New York Air Show, posted a tribute video in February with photos he took of Wright to the “Fast and Furious 7” soundtrack “When I See you Again.”
He was also memorialized at the New York Air Show last year by having all the performances dedicated to him, and the Atlantic City Air Show, where he was set to perform, did a missing man formation as a tribute to Wright and another pilot, Cory Hood, who died at the Chicago Air and Water Show earlier that month after crashing into a another plane. The pilot of the other plane was injured, but not fatally.
Wright, a resident of Austin, Texas, started doing aerobatics in 2001 and had logged more than 1,100 hours at the time of his accident. He was also a hobby parachutist.
He worked as a chief technology officer for a cyber security company based in Toronto, Canada and flew in air shows on the side.
When I met him, he was trying to break the world record for inverted flat spins, a move where the plane is upside-down, spiraling down towards the ground. He had already broken the world record of 81, he told me, but needed a witness from the Guinness World Records to make it official.
Knowing his passion for everything aerobatic, his family arranged to have his memorial service at an airport in Texas, which took place Sept. 5.
His younger brother, Eric Wright, said he still thinks about Andrew every day, and one year hasn’t been enough to assuage the pain. When asked if the completion of the investigation will help at all, he said no.
“But for the sake of the airplane he so loved, and others that own them, he would want the truth to come out,” he said in an email.
To contact this reporter, email firstname.lastname@example.org