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Sun, Jan 08, 2006

Eric Beard Lost In WX Related Accident

ANN regrets to report the loss of aerobatic pilot Eric Beard in what appears to be a weather related crash in the State of Washington. Well known as the pilot of "Russian Thunder," a Yak 54, Beard was apparently flying a Piper Seneca light twin for Airpac Airlines, Friday night when he went down in reduced visibility in Skagit County, WA.

The aircraft was enroute from Bellingham WA, to Burlington, and had been cleared to land at 2000 local time. The non-tower field had persons waiting for Beard's arrival who grew concerned and reported him missing about two hours later when the flight did not arrive. Beard did not report any problems, in communications with Whidbey Island Approach, with the aircraft during the approach.

The aircraft was found some 400 yards short of the runway, in a stand of trees, the next morning, and Beard was reported to be deceased at the time the impact site was discovered. It is believed he was killed on impact. A search the night before involved a Coast Guard helo, but had to be called off til the morning due to fog and reduced visibility.

According to Beard's bio, Eric's 34 year love affair with aviation began at the age of 14, when he started taking flying lessons at a crop dusting strip in Georgia, where he would ride his bicycle to the airport, to fuel and clean the airplanes in exchange for flying time.

Working with airplanes was just the start for Eric, as he had his eyes on the stars and later went to work in NASA's space program, working on Space Shuttles and Titan Rockets.

After years of flying straight and level, aerobatics began for Eric in the early 80's when he took an aerobatic lesson in a Cessna Aerobat, and was hooked by the first loop. Eric continued to polish his aerobatic skills, flying international competition, and continued to compete in the Yak 54.

Eric was a seasoned professional with over 13 seasons and hundreds of performances to his credit. Flying the Yak-54, is very challenging, with its truly unlimited performance and 360-horse power and inherent instability, requires constant attention. The Yak-54 demands intense concentration, practice and skill to fly with precision at low altitudes.

Eric Beard earned two degrees from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University including a Master of Science in Aeronautical Science and Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics. Beard held an ATP and lived in Auburn, Washington, with his wife Diane.

ANN sends its heart-felt condolences and prayers to the family and friends of this lost aviator.



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