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
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.