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.
Thanks, for the Ping. ..horrible event. :((
My prayers are out to Jimmy FRanklin and Bobby Younkin's FRiends and families. A tragic loss of two most talented and colorful aviators.
I have been a Jimmy FRanklin fan since the 1990 NAS Corpus Christi airshow -- he wowed the crowd with his aerobatic and wing walking routines in that huge (for an airshow aerobatic airplane) Waco.
I forget who the wing walker was at that show, but on his closing manuever, an inverted pass over the seawall, the engine quit at about 50' AGL. Jimmy simultaneously began pumping the "wobble" fuel pump and rolled the plane upright, preparing to land it on the seawall. Fortunately, the engine restarted and a much relieved (writer's speculation!) Jimmy and wing-walker departed the pattern!
I have seen Jimmy numerous times since then, including at least 6 of the Masters of Disaster shows. Incredible! Wicked Awesome! Those phrases don'e even begin to capture the beauty and spectacular show they put on.
The aviation world will miss these two very accomplished showmen/aviators very much.
Like a lot of you I got a call in the middle of the night about this. My phone was off -- I was getting my kiester kicked to the tune of six figures in an airport board meeting, and I'm still leery of sitting down -- and the caller (who I think wrote this story) left me a message, sounding shocked. After listening, I was shocked, too.
I've since heard from a number of other people who knew them. I have to say I barely did.
As far as the danger in their act or lack of the same, and whether the community has something to learn from that (well, there's always SOMEthing to learn!) I believe that that is something for the ICAS members to discuss behind closed doors, without the press (even the aviation press. ESPECIALLY the aviation press, who are the only ones who might understand) or the public, so that everyone can speak freely.
One small correction to DD's usual informative post -- the motor in Samson was a modified R-985 (P&W) putting out about 400hp. Samson was built by Steve Wolf, who also built some percentage of Delmar Benjamin's Gee Bee, and the wings for Jim Wright's ill-fated Hughes H-1. Steve is a very nice guy and an incredibly talented builder, and a first-rate acro pilot in his own right.
I think it was Steve building the Samson replica that got Curtis interested in doing the M-14 version, the Pitts model 12. Steve would tell you, or Jim or Kevin Kimball.
I admire Jim Leroy's ... uh, equipment... in saying The Show Must Go On. And I don't mean Bulldog. But his website says he's a reformed Marine, a predictable bunch on the stick-to-it-iveness front.
Criminal Number 18F
My heart still breaks and my phone still rings.
Many of the old timers don't have access to the internet and are just hearing about it. I remember when we lost Sean DeRosier last year at Miramar. I had to break the news to so many - because I didn't want them to hear it on the radio or TV.
Kyle and Jim LeRoy really showed some backbone in this interview. I have known Jim for many years and think he is probably one of the hardest working guys in the business. But, he's human and is still probably reeling from losing two such close friends.
Kyle... what can I say. He watched his father perish. Very few of us will ever have to deal with that experience. He is keeping strong and managing with a maturity beyond his years.
I remember at the races when I saw Tommy Rose go in. I was standing next to his wife/Girlfriend when it happened. It happened so fast that I wasn't sure at first who it was. The race was black flagged and we were busy counting the aircraft in the sky. I realized it was Tommy about 5 seconds before she did. I still get a lump in my throat thinking about that moment.
Thank you for the info on Samson. I was confusing the Model 12/14 with Samson. I have known Steve Wolf for many years also. He has been touched by so much of this. Someone told me a story about a show Steve did where his partner in the act crashed and nearly hit him on the way down. His wife crashed last year in a glider.
This business isn't easy for any of us - fans, pilots, performers, family, friends, et al. We get through it by sticking together and leaning on each other.
The love of flying must be stronger than the fear or the loss for us to continue. I hope that Kyle and Jim and all of us touched by this tragedy have the strength to carry on.
I didn't know about Steve's wife and the glider prang. Please tell me she's OK.
One of the things about this business is, you lose friends. That makes the friendships all the more precious.
Been a rough year, with Rock Iwasaki going in in a practice, (and now the JCAA wants to pull the plug on all civil airshow acts over there -- which was Rock and his guys, and some competition) and now this.
Fortunately, my phone's battery is dead.
Criminal Number 18F
She hurt her back - but last I heard she's back flying again. Tough cookie.
Didn't hear about Rock.
Do you know a Mark Johnston? He lives there also - photographer dude. Great guy.
I can’t believe I said that!
I first saw Jimmy Franklin in the summer of 1973 at NAS Corpus Christi. How 1990 got in that post baffles me.
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