Pilot Killed In Gender Reveal Stunt


The pilot of a Piper Pawnee was killed Saturday, Sept. 2, when the aircraft broke up during a sharp pull up for a gender reveal stunt in Sinaloa, Mexico. Video of the crash shows the aircraft approaching the expectant couple spraying pink powder or fluid, signifying the birth of a girl. When the aircraft pulls out of a shallow dive overhead, the left wing folds into the fuselage and the airplane rolls into a crash beyond the couple’s party site.

News outlets reported that the 32-year-old pilot, Luis Angel N., was found in the wreckage but later died at a hospital. This is second fatal gender reveal crash in as many years in Mexico. In April 2021, two pilots were killed when the Cessna 206 they were flying in a gender reveal stunt crashed into the water in Cancun. Two occupants of an Air Tractor were luckier when the aircraft got slow, stalled and crashed during a gender reveal stunt in Turkey, Texas. The pilot wasn’t injured and a passenger suffered only minor injuries.

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  1. This pilot was way too low. I think he got distracted with releasing the powder, suddenly saw the trees in front of him, then reacted. Looks like quite an aggressive yank on the yoke.
    Obviously a gender reveal by itself isn’t a dangerous activity. But it’s best to set a plan for route, m

        • And a crop duster as well.

          Be interesting to see what the cause was. From my POV, he was flying a typical crop dusting pattern: low with steep pull-ups and turns.

        • Good points. I missed thar it’s an ag plane. As others have mentioned, there may have been unchecked wing spar damage.
          But damaged or not, it’s a bad idea to put unnecessary stress on an aircraft.

  2. I don’t think flying that low directly at and over a large crowd of “distracted” people is a good idea anyway. Couldn’t they just fly past perpendicular and release the “fairy dust”?

  3. Not really aviation related but how did we get this far waiting for children to be born before revealing their gender?

  4. This is the second ag plane wing failure I’ve seen video of and it’s gut wrenching. Perhaps these aircraft need wing spar inspections or a life limit on the wing spar to prevent such tragedies. Very sad to lose a fellow pilot.

  5. Bbgun: the initial pullup was nothing unusual for ag operations.
    His legacy is a perfect initial dust drop that was cheered by all.
    Since so many Mexican ag aircraft were initially stolen from Texas/NM/Arizona/California without logbooks [https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/message-the-senate-transmitting-the-united-states-mexico-convention-stolen-or-embezzled]
    and maintenance south of the border is often substandard, an actual corrosion/prior repair cause could take some sleuthing. Fortunately, the Pawnee’s being of American manufacture means NTSB should be getting involved.

  6. #1 – Nobody really cares about the gender of the parasite growing inside you. Knock it off already.

    #2 – “…and hired a small jet to fly past…” A Pawnee = “small jet”? Come on, AvWeb. You can do better than this.

    • The caption in fine print, including the “small jet” reference, was directly quoting the news story. That wasn’t AvWeb’s wording.

      And while “too low, too slow” over a crowd is obviously wrong (though who knows what if any rules apply in Mexico), that’s almost certainly not what caused the wing to fail. As Wise Old Man and Bill B observed, almost certainly shoddy or no maintenance, maybe corrosion. Crop dusters fly too low/too slow and pull up too sharply all day every day.

      • “That wasn’t AvWeb’s wording.”

        Obviously, but they did nothing to correct the misinformation. Not a ‘(sic)’, not a footnote, nothing… As I said, they can do better than this.

        • We did correct it. I wrote the story, so I should know.

          Very likely that was an AI-generated caption. The original story had another picture that wouldn’t process for the newsletter. A second photo was inserted that had the long caption in the meta data that somehow escaped notice until this morning.

  7. If it didn’t give way this time it would have the next. At least no one on the ground was injured. As mentioned by others, shoddy maintenance at best and no maintenance at worst.

  8. I’m with Tom C., what’s wrong with a stupid cake & some balloons? This whole gender reveal party thing is just ridiculous.

  9. I may be wrong in this assumption (we all know what assuming gets us), but I suspect that the hopper containing the pink dust was contaminated with the residue of toxic insecticide which wound up mixed with the pink dust. The poor folks who witnessed the crash probably had other things on their minds than proper decontamination procedures.

  10. +1 on several of the comments – an awful lot of hype for something that’s been happening from time immemorial (or thereabouts…) – it’s gonna be one of two choices and neither one makes the parents stars.

    And yeah, I was wondering too how good the hopper or whatever it is got cleaned out before that.

    Anybody who’d fly that low over a crowd… You finish that sentence.

    I couldn’t judge speed well from that video, but if he was “low and slow”, that’d be below design maneuvering speed, right, and full range control movement should be permissible (unless I’m forgetting how that works)? The large airliner that lost it’s vertical stabilizer sometime after 9/11/01 excepted also.

    Person on the camera said meh on the crashing plane and went back to the hugging couple.

    • “Person on the camera said meh on the crashing plane and went back to the hugging couple.”

      Probably because they didn’t even realize the plane was crashing. Civilians don’t see planes the same way pilots’ do. His job was to point the camera at the happy couple, not ‘see’ what he was recording. It’s amazing what you can’t see when your mind is focused on something else.

      There’s a famous experiment where subjects are asked to view a film of a circle of people passing a basketball to each other. Half the players are wearing white shirts, half are wearing black shirts. They’re moving around the circle, passing the ball randomly from one player to another. The subjects viewing the film are asked to count how many times the ball is passed to a player wearing a white shirt.

      The action is non-stop, and it takes some concentration to keep an accurate count. At the end of the film the subject is asked if they saw anything unusual. Most subjects answer “no”.

      Then they rewind the film and play it back again. And there, right in the middle of all the action, is some person dressed up in a gorilla costume. The ‘gorilla’ enters the scene at some point in the film, walks through all the players passing the ball, waves at the camera from the center of the circle, then exits to the other side. The ball-passing players pay no attention, just moving around and passing the ball non-stop

      Those watching the film with this knowledge are incredulous that anyone could miss that. They’re convinced that THEY wouldn’t fail to see the gorilla. But the human brain is a funny thing, and everyone has got one….

  11. Piper Pawnee- —>>

    Firstly, it’s a low wing Super Cub. Same basic wing, and tail in addition to excellent visibility. It’s built very rugged, with the fuselage designed for crash protection and rollover protection, like a typical Ag plane. With an 800lb payload, the hopper allows for a huge gear/baggage/aux fuel bay. You can take a lot of gear/fuel, in addition to a gear bay behind the seat. He is able to fly in and out of any Cub strip or river bar.

    The downsides? It’s hard to find a good, corrosion free plane.

  12. I know those with more experience (in type…) may have said otherwise, but that pitch up looked way more degrees per second that what I’d have expected (check out elevator counterbalance frame by frame – he didn’t seem to have pulled the stick back and stayed there). Anyone else have suspicions about aft CG?

    • Doesn’t seem to be many ag pilots here. I’ve got 2 points for consideration.

      The load in an Ag plane (most types) is located on the CofG. Pawnee takes a longer time to release a load through the dumb door then other aircraft but it’s still quick enough to produce the following:
      Release of 1/3 of the AC MTOW within 3-6 seconds for a given airspeed will dramatically increase lift. Think heavy plane verse light plane.

      The flow of water underneath or over the tailplane reduces air density. Less dense air will require the tail to produce more lift to maintain the AoA of the mainplane (wing). If this is left unchecked ALONG WITH the increased lift, it will cause a severe pitching up moment.

      The second thing here is the pawnee is prone to cracking around bolt holes at every intersection throughout the wing. Spar and strutt. They require frequent NDT to verify. Does this always get done? Nope.

      Put it this way. The Polish built a thing called a Dromada. The turbine version requires full power, full flap, full stick forward before you hit the dump leaver. Mix that with fatigued bolt holes and you have the perfect recipe for maximum roll rate 😂.

      In conclusion. Some one needs to turn a cessna 188B AgTruck into a 2 seat touring bush plane. Those aircraft are the best thing on 2 wheels to fly! Until they’re loaded.