L-39 Crashes at Iowa Air Show

No signs of problems before disaster.

An L-39 flying as part of the Hoppers formation aerobatics team went out of control and crashed at the Quad City Airshow in Davenport Iowa on Saturday, killing the pilot, Glenn Smith, 59, of Frisco, Texas. No one on the ground was injured, but the crowd could see in the distance the airplane descending out of control and the ensuing fireball, a photograph of which was taken by a local news reporter covering the show. Grainy video of the crash sequence has been circulating as well. The NTSB is investigating the crash.

Smith, a retired software entrepreneur who was a commercial pilot with moderate experience, was the newest member of the team. The L-39 Albatros is a Czech-built Soviet-era training jet that is among the models most widely flown in civilian airshows. In interviews following the crash, one teammate referred to Smith as being “meticulous” in his preparation for airshow performances.