Sherman Smoot Dies In Yak Crash


Sherman Smoot, former Naval aviator and longtime warbird and race pilot, died in the crash of a highly modified Yak-11 on Sept. 2. The crash occurred just after takeoff from Minter Field Airport in Shafter, California. Details of the crash have not been confirmed. The aircraft was known as Czech Mate and was set up for racing with a 2,000-horsepower R-2800 Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp engine instead of the original Shvetsov radial. Friends and crew reportedly witnessed the crash.

Smoot was a lifelong resident of Paso Robles, California, and flew F-4s in for the Navy in Vietnam. He retired from Continental Airlines in 2005 after 28 years. He was a board member of the Estrella Warbirds Museum and an active race pilot. He placed second in the unlimited class at Reno in 2021 in a Hawker MK 11 Sea Fury, according to the museum.

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  1. My sincere condolences to the family during this difficult time. I knew Sherm well during our time in the F-4 Replacement Air Group class. Rugdance was a dedicated and competent individual in everything he accomplished. He will be missed. If I hear of any arrangements for a memorial service, I would feel honored to pay my respects to the family at that time.
    Rest in peace Sherm. You earned it! JB

  2. Yep. Not sure why some older pilots become so eager to take such serious deadly risks. Anything less than absolute perfection means being a smoking pile in the desert. I cannot give condolences when someone wishes to put them selves into impossible situations.

      • I believe he was on a first flight after a prop strike and engine rebuild). Reason was that the prop chosen was so large that it touches the ground except in a perfect tail wheel first landing on very smooth concrete.

        Basically they made a plane where you are screwed in any type of emergency landing.

  3. It’s been reported that he lost the engine on takeoff due to loss of oil pressure and instead of just landing straight ahead he turned back towards the runway and stalled/spin into the ground. Apparently, many witnesses. Even tremendously experienced pilots continue to make fatal fundamental mistakes.

  4. Sherm Smoot was my flight instructor for a private pilot’s license in Pullman Moscow Regional Airport more years ago than I care to remember. He was a superb pilot and really fun to fly with. We were contemporaries in the Navy while I was flying A7s.
    I’m not at all sure I agree with the comment about his being incapable due to his age. Did you know the man? Did you fly with him? Lately?
    How about we just send condolences and prayers for his friends and family and refrain from Sunday morning quarterbacking a situation we know not of just yet.
    Doug D