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Frisco Pilot Loses Life In Iowa Air Show Crash

By Bud Gillett, CBS 11 News | CBSDFW.COM
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FRISCO (CBSDFW.COM) – It could be days or even weeks before we know what caused the crash of a vintage military jet in Iowa last weekend that took the life of a Frisco man.

Glenn Smith died when Soviet-era trainer he was piloting crashed during an air show.

Smith and best friend Jim Wilson have aircraft stored in private hangars on the south side of the Collin County Regional Airport in McKinney. Wilson said Smith was a meticulous pilot who he trusted with his own life.

“I can’t bear to look at it,” Wilson says of the crash video. He  hasn’t looked at the video that took his friend’s life, but he has talked to Glenn Smith’s flying partners and so far, no one can explain what happened.

“He was guy who crossed every “T” and dotted every “I.” He knew everything about his airplane,” says Wilson.

Witnesses say there was no mayday or distress call. The aircraft veered off and went toward the ground at a 45-degree angle.

Wilson can’t explain it, either. “We’re all human and we don’t know what happened but Glenn was one of the few gentlemen in 42 years of flying that I’d crawl in an airplane with without reservation.”

An aerial photographer, Wilson says Smith’s passion was jet powered warbirds, especially those from the “other side.” He was flying a Czechoslova when he died.

“He had just finished restoring a Korean era Mig-17 to probably the finest condition of any airplane of its type in the world and he was enjoying flying that,” according to Wilson.

Smith and his fellow flyers were part of a private group called “The Hoppers,” volunteer flyers who often performed in smaller air shows so kids could get a hands-on experience.

“Sometimes and they offer rides and they let kids sit in the airplane and when they go meet them they talk about aviation and they share that experience,” Wilson related.

Fellow “Hoppers” nicknamed Smith “Skids.” He was a software entrepreneur who retired early so he could fly more often. He also created the Warbird Educational Foundation.

“He had a heart for kids, he had a heart for…his life was aviation. Glenn was neat guy and loved by everybody he met; an accomplished pilot.”

Smith had nearly half-a-dozen other vintage aircraft, and according to Wilson, was stickler for details.

Funeral arrangements for Glenn Smith are still pending.

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