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Hang glider pilot who died at Mountain Home Air Force Base was an air show veteran

American Flag (Anthony Delanoix/Unsplash)

A veteran hang glider died Saturday when he crashed during the Gunfighter Skies Air & Space Celebration at Mountain Home Air Force Base.

The 366th Fighter Wing identified the pilot as Dan Buchanan, 62, and announced that Sunday’s second day of the show will continue as scheduled. Gates will open at 8:30 a.m. and the first events start at 10:30 at the base, about 50 miles southeast of Boise.

Sunday’s show will be dedicated to Buchanan, a resident of Dayton, Nevada. He died after being taken to a local hospital. Friends said he is survived by a brother and a son.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to investigate the crash.

Boise photographer Bernie Deyo tweeted that Buchanan hit the ground hard on the west side of the air base. Military personnel responded to provide medical assistance.

“I’m not sure exactly what happened but [the] glider plummeted about 1,000 feet straight down after a show plane clipped its tow cable & impacted the ground hard & violently,” Deyo tweeted.

Another witness, who declined to identify himself, told the Idaho Statesman that the tow line was not clipped but intentionally released as part of the act, which took place about 1:30 p.m..

“He did a whole bunch of acrobatics that were intentional and then as he was coming in to land, it looked like he caught a crosswind and it flipped him upside-down and shot the nose into the ground,” he said.

He estimated that Buchanan was 40 to 50 feet off the ground when he encountered trouble.

The air show will continue tomorrow in honor of our dear friend Dan Buchanan, and all the support he has provided for our air shows. There will be a tribute to Dan and an opportunity to memorialize him at the show.

Buchanan suffered a spinal injury in 1981 while landing a hang glider in bad weather. Although he couldn’t walk after that, he returned to flying six months later and logged more than 3,000 hours of flight time in hang gliders and sailplanes, according to his website.

He was also licensed as a private and commercial pilot. He made his first appearance at an air show in Medford, Oregon, in 1989. He appeared annually at more than 25 airshows.

The Thunderbirds, an elite U.S. Air Force aerial group performing at Mountain Home, tweeted their condolences.

“The collective hearts of the entire U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are with Dan Buchanan, his family, his friends and his demonstration team,” they wrote.

Our aerial demonstration for today at Gunfighter Skies 2018 was canceled due to a tragic glider mishap at Mountain Home Air Force Base.

The collective hearts of the entire U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are with Dan Buchanan, his family, his friends and his demonstration team.

Air show reporter Lunar Sawyer, in a tribute, wrote that Buchanan was an inspiration.

Dan, you were an inspiration as you soared with your hang-glider, proving you were not bound to the earth by a wheelchair. May you not just soar with the angels, but may you walk amongst your friends who have gone before you. Blue skies, dear friend. RIP Dan.

LiveAirShowTV, an air show broadcaster, also paid tribute to Buchanan.

How can we both love and hate this airshow business at the same time. Our hearts are broken once again this week. Hang Glider performer Dan Buchanan was killed in a crash today at Mt. Home AFB during the airs how.

At a Gunfighter Skies show in September 2003, an F-16C jet from the Thunderbirds crashed and exploded. The crash, in which the pilot ejected safely and no spectators were injured, sent a fireball and smoke into the sky in front of tens of thousands of spectators.


© 2018 The Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.