Pip Borrman, Australian Aerobatics Star, Killed During Practice

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Peter 'Pip' Borrman, 54, one of Australia's most popular aerobatic performers, was killed on Wednesday afternoon while practicing in his new Pitts Samson biplane, which he planned to fly for the first time in public for next month's Australian International Airshow. A witness, Peter Lott, told local reporters that the airplane took off, Borrman flew one maneuver, then there was a "weird bang" and he saw the smoke. "When I got over there the plane was just a ball of flames in the paddock," he said.

According to the Edge Aerobatics Web site, Borrman was just nine years old when his father taught him to fly, and he fell in love with aerobatics as a teenager. He put his flying dreams on hold after his father was killed in a Tiger Moth accident in 1975 and went into business, but some years later he returned to aerobatic flying and eventually bought a Zivko Edge 540. He flew the Edge in airshows around the country, and in 1999 he received one of only two Ground Level Waivers ever issued in Australia. His wife of 30 years, Janet, said, "Flying was his passion, he just loved it ... he lived, ate and breathed it, he really did. Any spare time he had it was practice, practice, practice, he was just so particular." Borrman leaves a son, Edwin, 25, who flies F/18s for Australia's air force, and a daughter, Sarah, 21.

Borrman was well-known in Australia and his sudden loss was shocking to many. "Pip was a great pilot, so passionate about aerobatics, airshows, and charities, and just a nice guy," wrote a fellow pilot in an online forum. "What a tragedy," another wrote. "Pip has been an icon in the air show arena for many years. What a huge loss to the aviation community!" A friend wrote to AVweb: "He was our Past Patron of the RVAC -- the only Young Eagles program operating in Australia. He did his usual breathtaking performance at our Battle of Britain morning, in front of 32 Young Eagles." A recent video of Borrman practicing in the Pitts is posted online.