Air stuntman falls to death
Associated Press August 22, 2011, 9:33 am
US officials say a stunt wing walker has died after falling about 60 metres at an air show in southeastern Michigan.
A spokesman at Selfridge Air National Guard Base says wing walker Todd Green was trying to move from a plane to a helicopter when he fell on Sunday at the base in Harrison Township, about 30km northeast of Detroit.
Technical Sergeant Dan Heaton says an ambulance rushed Green to Mount Clemens Regional Medical Centre. Hospital spokeswoman Diane Kish says Green died from his injuries.
“It's really tragic,” said Kyle Franklin, 31, a pilot and lifelong friend of Green. “We are not thrill seekers trying to cheat death. We love what we do. We all know the risks involved.”
Green was one of a few stunt men worldwide brave enough to walk on the wing of a plane, industry followers said.
His dream was to perform chilling tricks like those of his father, Eddie (The Grip) Green, a legendary wing walker and skydiver who is an inductee of the International Council of Air Shows Foundation Hall of Fame.
But something went wrong on Sunday at Selfridge Air National Guard Base as about 75,000 people looked on.
Green was balancing on a wing of a plane, trying to grab a helicopter's skid. The helicopter circled the plane twice for Green to attempt to latch on, but he fell on the third try, witnesses said.
Moments after an announcer took note of the wind, Green fell from a wing when he was unable to clutch onto the helicopter as part of a trick he had been doing for years.
The National Weather Service in White Lake Township said winds in the area around the time of the incident were westward at 24k/ph. It was unclear on Sunday if the wind was a factor in the accident.
“My first thought was it was a mannequin falling because there was no movement at all,” Christine Doran of Allen Park said. “I turned to Jeff (her boyfriend) and asked, 'That was fake, right?'"
“He was trying to get to the helicopter, but then he fell,” Kawa-White said. “It was very emotional to watch.” Then came the paramedics and an announcement that the fall was no trick.
Green was taken to Mt Clemens Regional Medical Centre, where he was pronounced dead.
“It's a tragedy that this type of accident occurred,” Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said. “Our hearts go out to the family.”
Friends of Green said he was happily married and a gentle man. "He was a lot of fun,” Franklin said. “He was very easy going and loved performing. He was phenomenal.”
Friend and stunt pilot Warren Pietsch couldn't believe the news. “It's very sad to hear,” Pietsch said. “He's done that trick a lot before.”