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Two Pilots Killed at Air Shows in Iowa, California

June 24, 1991

Undated (AP) _ A champion air racer was killed at a weekend air show in Iowa, a day after a stunt plane failed to pull out of a maneuver at a show in California, killing the pilot and injuring nine people.

A wing sheared off a Formula V racing plane as it negotiated a turn during the Quad-City Air Show at an airport in Davenport, Iowa, on Sunday, and the plane crashed about a mile from the crowd. No spectators were hurt.

Killed was pilot Rick Leonard, 40, of Hillsdale, N.J., who had been an air racer since 1985 and was Formula V national champion in 1987 and 1988.

He was performing in the final event of the fourth annual air show, a race between four aircraft. The one-seat, homemade plane crashed and skidded on a street west of the airport, ending up at the edge of a cornfield.

″They had the formula racers flying and at the second turn ... it seemed like somebody had just taken a big knife and sliced off the wing,″ said Evan Ineichen, a Davenport boy.

″Then the plane broke out spinning in a flat spin and I saw the pilot trying to get out and he couldn’t get out,″ he said. ″Next thing I know, I heard this boom boom and the plane went down.″

Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration on hand to supervise the show examined the wreckage.

On Saturday, the tail pilot of the four-member Brew Angels aerobatic team, which was performing a stunt called an end-tail roll, failed to pull out of a maneuver at an air show in Redding, Calif., and crashed in a ball of flames.

Federal investigators on Sunday investigated the crash that killed Gordy Drysdale, 43, of Stockton, Calif., and injured nine people, two seriously.

Spectators shielded children from flying debris; others in the crowd of 8,500 bolted from lawn chairs. Heat from the explosion could be felt hundreds of feet away, witnesses said.

The Brew Angels, based in Northern California, fly rebuilt Air Force T-34 trainers and do maneuvers similar to those performed by the Navy’s Blue Angels. They have no connection to the military flying group.

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