Skip to comments.Aero-News Alert: Jimmy Franklin, Bobby Younkin Lost In Moose Jaw MidAir
Posted on 07/11/2005 3:59:35 AM PDT by jaydubya2
Aero-News Alert: Jimmy Franklin, Bobby Younkin Lost In Moose Jaw MidAir Mon, 11 Jul '05
Horrible Weekend For Airshows ANN REALTIME UPDATE 0029, 07.11.05: This is one of those stories I never thought I'd have to do... but a tragic and fiery midair collision during a presentation of the "Masters of Disaster" airshow routine has resulted in two fatalities and a reported injury after the three airplanes ran afoul of each other. The incident occurred at 1620, local time.
It has now been confirmed that both Jimmy Franklin, a truly legendary airshow performer, and Bobby Younkin, a greatly accomplished flyer, have been lost in this staggeringly catastrophic crash. Both Younkin's and Franklin's death has now been confirmed in national media reports. The airshow was canceled immediately after the accident.
Both Younkin's 'Samson' and Franklin's Jet Waco biplanes (first pic, below) were brought down and destroyed while a third, Jim Leroy's 'Bulldog', apparently got down to the ground under some kind of control. Unfortunately, Franklin's son Kyle, who had just finished a wing-walking performance with his dad, was announcing the act when the midair occurred.
According to published reports, Bobby Younkin was scheduled to be flying "Samson" (second photo, shown below) while we have determined that it was Franklin's Waco that went down. The third, surviving, airplane was as Jim LeRoy's Bulldog (third photo, below).
The accident took place at this year's 2005 Saskatchewan Centennial Airshow, hosted by the Canadian Force's 15 Wing at Moose Jaw. The show was to have included performances by a number of military birds and a Snowbirds flight demonstration... which was to also have honored the memory of Snowbird pilot Capt. Miles Selby, lost in a training accident last year.
The Airshow site released a statement a short ago while that reported, "At approximately 16:20, the Air Show was brought to an unexpected halt after two pilots from Masters Of Disaster were killed in a collision mid-flight. The planes were Samson and Waco. The pilots names will be released once the next of kin have been informed. Bulldog was able to make a safe landing and emergency crews responded immediately. The accident is currently under investigation. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those involved."
Sorry to bring you this sad news this morning...
Saw these guys last year at the Quad City Air Show. Sorry to hear that this happened.
I heard about it last night.
A little about the guys...
Jim LeRoy started out his career in my neck of the woods. He was a member of our local aerobatic chapter and I've known him for years. When I first heard the news - they weren't sure who of the three made it.
Jimmy Franklin was a legend. Jimmy and his son, Kyle, were one of the best shows on the network. His WACO with the Jet Engine was hilarious at first - with a beautiful old biplane emitting Jet Engines performance. It was amazing. Always the showman, he was always looking for better ways to entertain the audiences.
Besides being one of the most entertaining airshow performers, he was also an accomplished movie stunt pilot. He performed in the Rocketeer, Three Amigos and McBain (among others). In the Rocketeer, he flew the WACO from the front - while the actor, Billy Campbell, sat in the back.
Bobby Younkin was also a legend. I'm sorry to say I have never met him. The plane he was flying, Samson, is a Curtis Pitts design with a M14P - Round Russian Engine - with nearly 400 hp. It's an wonderful machine.
The Masters' of Disaster sequence was amazing to watch - but always looked dangerous. I guess that was the great attraction. I've seen the video tape a dozen times already and it seems the Younkin was lost in the smoke and Franklin didn't see him. We'll never know.
My heart breaks for them and their families.
Website set up....
I once had the privilege of flying in the front seat of Jim Franklin's Waco while Johnny Kazian did a photo-op wing walk for me.
A truly nice man, and a loss to the aviation community.
I saw these guys perform in Janesville, WI on June 11.
It was the most amazing air show performance I'd ever seen. It was clear they were pushing the envelope. Sad to lose them.
Jimmy and Kyle Franklin perfomed in Indiana at the Porter county airshow in 2003. It was a memorable show. I still get goosebumps when I think about that jet powered Waco and the acceleration it had, not to mention the thrill of sound that jet engine would produce when he kicked it in. They will be missed.
K, ignore my PM, I did a search and found the mstory here.
Thank you for the ping, Dasher.
Again, I'm so sorry that you lost two of your friends. It just doesn't seem fair.
Saw it here.
Prayers for the pilots and their families.
Words from Kyle Franklin and Jim LeRoy
July 11, 2005 - 19:18
Son of pilot who died in Sask air show crash doesn't know what happened
MOOSE JAW, Sask. (CP) - While investigators tried Monday to determine what caused a fiery collision at a weekend air show, the two pilots killed in the crash were remembered as top-notch performers who dedicated their lives to pushing the limits.
"This is a dangerous business - what we do - and my dad went out doing what he loved," said Kyle Franklin, a fellow performer who watched from the ground as his father, Jimmy Franklin, died in the crash.
"Air shows is all he has ever known and all I've known . . . It's what I love. I have no intentions of really getting out of the air show business. It's in my blood."
The Franklins were members of the U.S.-based X-Team Masters of Disaster, a civilian areobatic act considered one of the most sought-after in the air show industry.
Jimmy Franklin and fellow pilot Bobby Younkin were killed instantly when their planes ran into one another while performing a stunt Sunday afternoon.
About 20,000 spectators watched in stunned silence as the flaming wreckage rained to the ground in front of them. No one else was injured. The show was cancelled after the accident.
It's still unclear what went wrong.
Jim LeRoy, the man who brought the X-Team together and pilot of the third plane in the air when the accident happened, said he didn't want to speculate.
"There was a collision. It wasn't supposed to happen and that is all I can say right now," LeRoy said.
"We all know the risks we take each weekend. Things went wrong yesterday and we are very saddened by that."
He said the team's shows are structured but not necessarily scripted.
"Inside of that structure there are things that happen differently in each show," LeRoy said. "And that is one of the things that made MOD as entertaining as it was, not only for the crowd, but for us as well."
The Transportation Safety Board is leading the probe into the accident. It is being aided by the Department of National Defence because the crash happened at 15 Wing Moose Jaw - the home of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds.
Peter Hildebrad, a regional manager with the board, said investigators will also check whether spectators were ever in danger.
"We certainly look for any threat to people on the ground," Hildebrad said. "So far it appears that there was not a problem in that area . . . it looks like the defences were operating in this case."
Both Jimmy Franklin and Younkin had been flying in air shows since they were teenagers and had close to 70 years of experience between them, according to information on their websites.
In 1999, Franklin became the first to add a jet engine to his 1940 Waco biplane. His flying is featured in several movies, including Terminal Velocity, The Rocketeer and Three Amigos.
"I can't call anybody the top, but if ever there was, he was probably the top air show guy in the industry," said Warren Pietsch of Pietsch Aircraft in Minot, N.D.
Kyle Franklin recalled fond memories of growing up around planes - the family lived in an apartment in an airport hangar when he was young.
He also said he was somewhat prepared for this tragedy because he can remember losing his grandfather in a plane crash years ago.
"He's my father, but he is also my best friend. He and I were very close," he recalled. "In the aviation community, Bobby and Jim both were legends and his legacy will forever live on. Both of them will."
Younkin specialized in flying a modified Learjet, a plane normally reserved for carrying passengers.
"This act would not have been what it is if you didn't have these natural born pilots," Kyle Franklin said.
LeRoy said the team will get in the air again soon. They have a performance scheduled in Ohio this weekend that they intend to make.
"There's things to take care of and those things will be taken care of and then we will move on, but we are never going to let the memory of Bobby and Jimmy escape us," LeRoy said.
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