Vicki Cruse dies during aerobatic competition

August 24, 2009

vickiVicki Cruse, president of the International Aerobatic Club (IAC) and a member of the U.S. Aerobatic Team, died Aug. 22 during a qualifying flight for the Twenty-fifth World Aerobatic Championships in England. It is conducted every two years.

Cruse was a four-time member of the U.S. Aerobatic Team and was the national aerobatic champion in the unlimited category in 2007. As IAC president, she was a member of the EAA board of directors. She lived in Santa Paula, Calif. The accident occurred at Silverstone, Buckingham, England, where an automotive race course is co-located with an airport. It is northwest of London.

Those who saw the accident said Cruse was performing her routine for the judges, a performance that was videotaped. It was considered a qualifying round of the competition. She had completed a 90-degree vertical climb, pushing the nose over at the top in order to descend on a vertical down line. On that descent she performed a one and one-quarter snap roll. The objective is to stop rotation after the aircraft has rolled one and one-quarter times, but rotation in this case only slowed. The rotation continued to the ground. The accident is under investigation by British authorities.

The Zivco Edge 540 in which she died was based in England and had been borrowed for the contest to avoid the cost of shipping a personal aircraft to England. Although team blog entries by Cruse late last week indicated she was having difficulty with the aircraft’s ignition system, that problem had been corrected before competition began, a team official said.

Al Marsh

Alton K. Marsh | AOPA Pilot Senior Editor, AOPA

AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.