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Published August 15 2011

Mishap at Fargo AirSho as performer lands without gear down

FARGO – Fargo AirSho officials declared the show’s second day a success, despite a mishap that occurred when a performer landed without his landing gear down, hurting the airplane but not the pilot.

Sunday’s incident de­layed the start of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels’ performance by about 30 minutes as crews re­moved the damaged airplane from the runway, said Darrol Schroeder, co-chairman of the AirSho Committee.

The airplane landed on its belly, damaging the prop and engine, he said.

“It was a little tension for a while,” Schroeder said, adding that spectators were gracious and stayed for the Blue Angels.

It wasn’t clear whether pilot error or an equipment malfunction caused the landing gear to stay up, Schroeder said. The Federal Aviation Administration will have to review the incident, he said.

The pilot’s name and model of airplane he was flying weren’t immediately available after the show.

Committee co-chairman Dick Walstad said officials adjusted the schedule by putting other performers in the air: a B-25 bomber and Casselton native Jim “Fang” Maroney in his stunt plane.

A couple of commercial airline flights scheduled to arrive after the Blue Angels’ performance may have faced minor delays, Walstad said.

“If somebody was in a hurry to get to Fargo that afternoon, we might have cost them a few minutes, but other than that, not a problem,” he said.

Overall, AirSho officials were ecstatic about the turnout during the two-day show. Walstad and Schroeder estimated that more than 10,000 people attended Sunday, after an estimated 20,000-plus on Saturday.

“If those numbers hold up, that’ll be a record for us,” Walstad said.

The weather cooperated both days, with highs in the upper 70s and low 80s and partly cloudy skies.

Walstad and Schroeder said they received positive feedback from the crowd, which included strong representation from nearby states and Canada, as well as large contingents of employees from Case New Holland in Fargo and Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing, which produces cables and wire harnesses for aircraft.

“We’re very satisfied. It was just a wonderful crowd,” Schroeder said, calling the event “probably the best show we’ve had, without a doubt.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528