Legend Illegal On Fatal Flight

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A pilot revered as an aviation legend in Minnesota shouldn't have been flying at all the day his Curtiss JN4 crashed, killing him and seriously injuring a passenger. R.W. "Buzz" Kaplan had been flying illegally for almost 20 years. The 78-year-old former bush pilot and adventurer hadn't renewed his medical since 1979. "Unfortunately, yes it's true," FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The man who was with Kaplan last June 26 said his medical condition had nothing to do with the crash, however. Brent Langer said he believes Kaplan stalled the notoriously underpowered biplane by trying to turn too steeply at too slow a speed, shortly after takeoff from Owatonna Airport. Langer also said he was surprised that Kaplan was flying illegally. Kaplan was known for the diverse and unusual aircraft he restored and flew to EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh every year. He learned to fly shortly after the Second World War and flew in Africa, Antarctica and Alaska. He was inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame.