Renowned aerobatic champion Kirby Chambliss walked away from the crash of his Red Bull Zivko Edge 540 on Wednesday after suffering an engine failure while practicing for an airshow in El Salvador.
Preparing for the upcoming Ilopango Air Show scheduled for this weekend, Chambliss was in formation with fellow airshow pilot Skip Stewart when the Zivko’s engine failed at low altitude over rough terrain off the end of the runway. Stewart described the crash sequence in the following message on his Facebook page:
“There is a lot of false information out there. I was flying on his wing when it happened. We were flying a formation high alpha pass. At the end of the runway Kirby's engine quit. There was nowhere to land. He descended into a rocky ravine and crashed onto the side of a steep embankment. I was watching him the whole way. The plane crashed into small trees and flipped over. The airplane was badly damaged, but Kirby extracted himself and walked to a clearing. I had immediately called for the rescue helicopter and they were there very quickly. A testament to the readiness of the El Salvadorian military. Kirby is fine with superficial scrapes and bruises.”
Photos taken by Stewart after the mishap make clear the Edge 540 is a total loss. In that airplane, Chambliss is a five-time U.S. National Aerobatic Champion, 2004 and 2006 Red Bull Air Race World Champion, the winner of two bronze medals at the 2005 World Aerobatic Championships, winner of one silver and bronze at the 2003 World Aerobatic Championships and the Men's Free Program World Champion at the 2000 World Aerobatic Championships.