Locally known aerobatic pilot dies at New Mexico air show

Friday, October 6, 2006

An aerobatics pilot who performed at an air show in Fort Scott last month died Wednesday when the his airplane crashed during a New Mexico airshow.

Dr. Guy Baldwin, 60, was killed when he apparently lost control of a single-engine German-made Extra 300L plane while performing a loop maneuver, according to newspaper articles in The Tulsa World and the Quay County Sun, which covered the crash. It was the same model that Baldwin flew at Fort Scott Municipal Airport Day Sept. 9, an annual event he had participated in for the past four years.

Shortly before 1:30 p.m., spectators at Tucumcari, N.M., Rotary Club Air Show noticed the plane appear to cartwheel after hitting the ground while other witnesses saw the plane slide after striking the earth about 500 feet from spectators, the Quay County Sun article said.

After striking the ground, the plane left a trail of debris in its wake, the newspaper said.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration investigating Thursday. A Tucumcari airport official said the NTSB concluded that investigation. The NTSB investigator could not be reached as of press time.

Baldwin's act was being professionally videotaped that will be used by officials to aid in the investigation, aerobatics pilot Randy Harris said in an e-mail.

"I did not personally observe the maneuver Guy was performing just prior to the crash," Harris said. "I did hear the impact and turned in time to see the airplane come to a stop."

Harris was one of the first to arrive at the crash scene. The fuselage was largely intact but the wings, landing gear and canopy were broken away.

The show was Baldwin's first at a high elevation that robs performance from the plane, requiring pilots to compensate by altering their routines. "Guy did this, however it appears that his efforts may not have been enough."

The New Mexico show was the last performance of the year for Baldwin, which followed the Fort Scott show on Sept. 11.

Baldwin, who was also a long-time Tulsa physician and served as a Federal Aviation Administration-certified medical examiner. He logged more than 4,000 hours of flying time in 35 years, according to his Web site, www.docbaldwinairshows.com. He also wrote stories for aviation magazines and was involved in charitable causes like Make A Wish Foundation and Camp Fire USA and the Tulsa Air and Space Museum.

Coincidentally, Baldwin's clinic partner, Dr. William R. Barnes, was killed July 2 after his Cessna 180K nose-dived in a rural Owasso, Okla., neighborhood, according to The Tulsa World.

U.S. air shows (of which there are hundreds each year) have an excellent safety record, Harris said. Each year, only three fatalities occur at air shows, on average. Each pilot is required to attend mandatory safety training every year, Harris added.

"Guy Baldwin was a proficient pilot, mentor and safety conscious individual who looked out for the safety of others," Harris said. "He will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."

Felice Baldwin, his wife of many years, said in a telephone interview on Thursday that Guy "was doing exactly what he loved to do. I couldn't think of a better thing he loved doing more than flying. He loved it."Felice said she was shocked and devastated after learning the tragic news of her husband's accident. Family and friends, including her two teenage children, Hunter and Brittny, were comforting her at their home at the time of the interview.

The funeral is planned for Thursday in Tulsa.