STRATFORD, Conn. — Two witnesses said the vintage World War II plane piloted by the former president of Stratford-based Sikorsky Aircraft was in a “nose down spiral” before its fiery crash in Arizona, according to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board.
Jeffrey Pino, 61, was killed in the crash along with his friend and fellow pilot, Brookfield resident Nicholas Tramontano, 72.
The deadly crash of the The plane, a P-51 Mustang dubbed the “Big Beautiful Doll,” occurred at at noon Friday, Feb. 5, about six miles southwest of Maricopa.
A witness about a mile from the accident site reported observing the airplane in a nose down spiral about 1,500 to 2,000 feet above ground level, until it crashed, the report said.
Another witness near the accident scene said the airplane was in a dive and that he did not see it pull out of the descent, the NTSB said.
A debris path extended for about 150 feet at the crash scene. Most of the fuselage structure and wings were consumed by a post-impact fire. The power lines located near the main wreckage were not damaged.
No flight plan had been filed when the restored airplane — owned, registered and flown by Pino — left Stellar Airpark in Chandler, Ariz., earlier that morning at an unknown time, the NTSB said.
The airplane was moved to a secure facility for further examination. No preliminary cause for the crash was included in the NTSB report.
Pino led Sikorsky from 2006 until retiring in 2012. There, he was responsible for the development of strategic plans, mergers and acquisitions, advanced programs, worldwide sales, marketing, communications, and the execution of commercial programs.
He later became vice chairman of XTI Aircraft, which is working on the TriFan 600, an experimental aircraft designed to take off and land vertically.
Pino was a retired master Army aviator and served in U.S. Army active, reserve, and National Guard assignments for 26 years. He was a certified airplane and helicopter instructor pilot and an aerobatic and air show performer.
Tramontano, the passenger who died in the crash, was famous at Oxford Airport, where he was flew his own World War II aircraft.
His airline career spanned 33 years, starting at New York Airways and retiring from FedEx.
Tramontano owned a World War II-era Beechcraft Model 18, which he allowed children from Sandy Hook Elementary school to tour weeks after the mass shooting as part of a field trip.
Click here to read the report from the NTSB.
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