Sad day.

When a life is lost, and a piece of history is gone.

HICKORY – Witnesses: Plane was trying to take off but went off runway, burned The pilot of a single-engine Korean War-era fighter jet died Monday when the airplane skidded off a runway at Hickory Regional Airport, crashed and exploded.
Close friends and the pilot’s pastor identified him as Wyatt Fuller, a vintage-airplane buff who was headed to an air show in Oshkosh, Wis., when the crash happened. He was piloting a 1954 F-86 Sabre made in Canada.
Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board arrived on the scene late Monday afternoon to start investigating the accident, the only fatality that Hickory officials can recall at the small airport.
Officials said they didn’t know what caused the crash.
His F-86 Sabre was one of a handful still flyable, Terry said. More than 5,500 Sabres were built in the United States and Canada.
Fuller had long admired the jet, an Air Force one-seater similar to those flown in the Korean War, when he found one for sale on the Internet, according to a story in the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle.
He bought it in 2003 and thought it would take a few months to get it flying. It took 1 1/2 years to restore in Mojave, Calif., where it had been stored.
The plane, built by Canadair, originally had been flown in the Royal Canadian Air Force and then was owned by a flight testing company.
For a while, it was assigned to Col. James Kasler, a decorated American pilot in Korea and Vietnam, where he was a POW for seven years after his plane was shot down in 1966.
“That’s one of the reasons we worked so hard and went to the lengths we did,” Fuller told the Augusta newspaper. “We felt like we owed it to the public and owed it to him.
“The plane was meant to fly; it’s what it was built for.”
Jim Carr, who flies with the Civil Air Patrol and who kept his airplane next to Fuller’s at the Hickory airport, said Fuller had to make an emergency landing in the Sabre jet at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama this spring.
Carr said the plane’s right landing gear failed to fully extend and that Fuller landed the plane on the nose and left main wheels, then set down the right side on the underwing fuel tank and slid on the fuel tank until the plane came to a stop.
He said Fuller had spent the past couple of months taking apart the plane and cleaning it to prepare for the Oshkosh air show.
Carr said that amid his tinkering, Fuller was friendly and liked to talk with kids interested in aviation. “I could bring a young cadet (teenage Civil Air Patrol student) to his hangar and he would stop what he was doing and show them.”
Fuller, a former airline pilot who also made a name for himself as a motorcycle designer for Harley-Davidson, had a generous nature, said Ruffin Snow, pastor of Tri-City Baptist Church in Conover, where Fuller had been a member for a decade.
Snow spent much of the afternoon with members of Fuller’s family. He said Fuller has three children.
“He did a flyover this past November for our Veterans Day service at the church,” Snow said. “We had a ceremony with a 21-gun salute and then here came Wyatt and he did a barrel roll or whatever you call it, and it was so thrilling. He did all that just out of the goodness of his heart.”

God Speed.

5 Responses to “Sad day.”

  1. Oh, indeed. He sounds like he was a helluva guy.

  2. DirtCrashr says:

    I’m sorry to hear that, but I blame Canada.

  3. Crusader says:

    Actually the Canada built Sabres were the best of the type.

  4. Cullen says:

    I still blame Canada.

  5. major dad says:

    Me and the Ebola unit saw quite a crash at the El Toro Airshow in the 80’s. Old boy pancaked an F-86 right in front of the main grandstand after failing to pull all the way out of a loop. There was nothing left. Had to leave after that.

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