Air Force Sued In Airshow Death


The family of airshow performer Eddy Andreini, who burned to death at a California show in 2014, is alleging that Air Force firefighters were away from their trucks “taking pictures of aircraft” when Andreini’s modified Stearman crashed on the main runway at Travis Air Force Base. In a lawsuit filed last week in California, the family claims the firefighters at the Thunder Over Solano show were not wearing their firefighting gear and in the five minutes it took them to mount their response, as we reported earlier, Andreini, who was not hurt in the crash, was killed by the fire that had all but consumed the aircraft by the time they arrived. The suit claims the Air Force was required in its airshow contract to ensure a response time of no more than three minutes and the family is seeking unspecified damages for what it calls the “egregious and outrageous” performance of the firefighters. The formal filing of the suit follows other legal action by the family to get information from the Air Force.

Andreini was performing an inverted ribbon cut when the Stearman, which had been modified with an enclosed canopy, hit the runway and slid to a stop. Andreini radioed that he was not hurt but was trapped in the cockpit. A small fire started under the cowl and Andreini pleaded for help over the radio. Meanwhile, the airshow announcer was ordering everyone to stay away from the furiously burning aircraft “and let the firefighters do their job.” Two people ignored the order and emptied portable fire extinguishers on the fire to little effect. The suit claims the first fire truck on the scene didn’t have the equipment to fight the fire. It says the first properly equipped truck arrived more than five minutes after the alarm sounded from a station 1.3 miles from show center and its crew had been ordered to drive no more than 25 mph to the scene. The Air Force has not responded to the claim and has not responded to an email request from AVweb for comment on the accident.