NTSB Cites Medical Falsification In Fatal Crash Investigation

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The most recent application for a second-class medical certificate of a 74-year-old airshow pilot with a history of heart-related problems who crashed and died last year during practice for an airshow was approved by a physician who flew with him in airshows, according to the NTSB. Prior to that, in 2005, the FAA had denied Geico Skytyper pilot Jan Wildberghs's medical application because it found he had a "history of falsification of multiple previous examinations." That falsification references applications in 2003 through 2005 on which the pilot failed to note his history of heart trouble and withheld from the FAA relevant information (including abnormally fast heart rhythms, tightness in his chest and shortness of breath). According to the NTSB, those symptoms would likely have kept him from qualifying for a medical certificate. Pilots who flew with the now-deceased pilot said he had nodded off during the preflight and looked pale. The pilot was killed when four others broke from formation to turn for landing, but witnesses saw his aircraft continue flying in a shallow descent until it impacted the ground and was destroyed by fire.

Upon autopsy, two drugs were found in the pilot's body. One drug helped prevent blood clots, and the other may have been used to slow the pilot's heart rate. The NTSB's investigation also found a letter from the pilot's cardiologist to his primary care physician stating that the pilot may need to give up recreational flying due to his "aggressive" style of flying and performance in air shows.