Two EAAers Lost in Wright Model B Accident
August 4, 2011 – The cause of a fatal accident involving a replica 1910 Wright Model "B" N453WB that claimed the lives of two EAA members remains under investigation by the FAA and the NTSB. Killed on Saturday, July 31, were Don Gum, 73, EAA 685485, of Beaver Creek, Ohio, and Mitchell Cary, 65, EAA 704263, of Yellow Springs, Ohio, when the replica aircraft dubbed Silver Bird went down shortly before 11 a.m. in a field near Springfield, Ohio. It had taken off for a test flight from Springfield Beckley Municipal Airport.
According to a report in the Dayton Daily News, Phil Beaudoin, president of Wright ‘B’ Flyer Inc. said the pilots contacted the Springfield tower and said they were going to make a forced landing. The replica went down in a field a mile west of 7391 Pitchin Road at 10:56 a.m. and state troopers arrived at the accident scene 11:39 a.m.
Wright “B” Flyer Inc. volunteers, including Gum and Cary, spent 4-1/2 years building Silver Bird. The two were members of the group's board of trustees and Cary was a former president.
A press release located on the organization’s website read, “Mitch and Don were highly competent pilots with extensive experience flying Wright ‘B’ Flyer’s airplanes and other experimental aircraft. They always observed the highest standards of safety. They made enormous contributions to our organization and to the aviation heritage community. They were good friends and we miss them deeply.” (Read entire statement here.)
The replica was built as a modern look-alike of a Wright Model “B” Flyer to resemble the 1910 edition, but had a modern engine, controls, and materials. The aircraft replica appeared on static display at AirVenture 2009 and received its airworthiness certificate last fall. It had logged approximately 25 of the required 40 test-flight hours, according to the organization.
News report of the accident: