Possible Reasons for Air Show Fall: Wind or Bird

Large bird or wind may be to blame for the death of stuntman Todd Green in a Michigan air show.

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Guy Raziel,

Air show accident.
Air show accident.

The reason for stuntman Todd Green's fall Sunday at the Selfridge Air Show in Michigan is still not known, and may never be determined. Green fell to his death as nearly 75,000 onlookers below watched on in horror.
The Detroit Free Press quoted air show officials as saying that that Green made multiple attempts to transfer from a biplane to a helicopter as part of the plan to heighten the drama. In truth the transfer was a simple maneuver for the veteran showman and he could have succeeded on the first effort, had he wanted to.
"The way the act is supposed to work is, he makes the transfer on the third pass," said Hugh Oldham, an announcer at Sunday's show.
"We were embellishing the difficultly of the act," Oldham said.
On the third pass, however, something went terribly wrong and Green, 48, plunged 60 meters (200 feet) to the ground.
On Monday, officials at Selfridge were trying to determine what happened, alongside officials from the International Council of Air Shows and federal aviation officials.
"Some speculate that gusting winds caused it. A published report theorized that a large bird in the air near the plane and helicopter as Green was attempting the act may have been behind it. No cause had been determined as of Monday evening," the Free Press said.
Green had done the act hundreds of times, and it has been performed many times before in higher winds, Oldham said. The National Weather Service in White Lake Township said winds in the area near the time of the incident -- about 1:30 p.m. -- were westward at 15 m.p.h. (24 k.p.h.). At this speed, it is "extremely unlikely that the crosswind would have been a factor for pilots and performers as experienced as the folks who were involved with this act at the Selfridge show are," said John Cudahy, president of the International Council of Air Shows in Leesburg, Va.