Kansas City, Mo. Kansas City’s annual air show took to the skies again Sunday, a day after spectators were sent home when a stunt pilot crashed to the ground while performing loops and spirals in his small plane.
Sunday’s performance opened with a tribute to pilot Bryan Jensen, including a rendition of taps and planes flying in missing man formation. The day’s show was dedicated to him.
The Minnesota native was killed Saturday afternoon when his biplane named “The Beast” failed to pull out of a dive and crashed into a fiery ball on the grass next to a runway at Wheeler Downtown Airport.
Thousands of spectators at the Kansas City Aviation Air Show fell into a hush after Jensen’s plane hit the ground, and event organizers immediately shut performances down for the day.
Jeff Caddell said he met Jensen four years ago and considered him to be an extraordinary pilot who loved interacting with people as much as he did flying.
“Bryan was nothing but a class act kind of guy. He loved people so much and loved seeing them have a great time,” said Caddell, who organizes the annual Wings Over Ashville air show in Alabama. “I would see Bryan take special time out with the public to answer questions, and he did it on a level that made you feel special — unlike how some public figures do.”
Authorities have not released Jensen’s age and hometown.
Caddell said Jensen often participated in air shows with his girlfriend, C.C. Gerner, who also is a stunt pilot. According to Gerner’s website, she was scheduled to be at the Kansas City air show this weekend.
When The Associated Press reached Gerner by phone Sunday afternoon, she said she wasn’t ready to talk about Jensen’s crash.
Jensen announced in January on his website, beastair
shows.com, that he had been promoted to captain with Delta Airlines. A spokeswoman with Delta told the AP on Sunday she knew about his crash but couldn’t confirm he worked for the airline because there was no human resources staff available to verify it.
According to Jensen’s website, he had more than 23,000 hours of commercial flight time and had been flying aerobatics for 15 years.
Caddell said his last memory of Jensen was after an air show when a little boy came up to talk to him.
“Bryan got on one knee to have a picture made with the boy and stayed kneeled down to talk with him for a bit,” Caddell said. “That was Bryan.
“Someone would come up to him and ask a basic question that a lot of people would hesitate to ask. He would take the time to answer on a level that anyone would understand. A lot of times other guys would blow you off.”
The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash, but show director Ed Novallis said there’s nothing to indicate that weather or other outside factors contributed to the crash.
Officials said Saturday’s fatal crash was the first ever recorded at the Kansas City air show. Sunday’s show went off without any problems.