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Mon, Mar 08, 2010

Pilot Of Downed T-6 Identified As Alabama Doctor

Aircraft Were Not Part Of Any Performance Team

The pilot of the T-6 Texan that failed to recover from a formation loop has been identified as Dr. H. Evan Zeiger, Jr, of Birmingham, AL.  Dr. Zeigler, 60, held a commercial pilot rating.

Family friend Dr. Joe Carnley told the Panama City News Herald that Dr. Zeiger and his wife, Peggy, vacationed in the area near the crash.  Mrs. Zeiger is believed to be the passenger in the accident, though medical examiners have not confirmed her identity.

Dr. Carnley also dispelled any idea that the T-6 was a part of an air show performance group. He explained that the aircraft owners were merely friends with a common interest flying together for fun.

Original Story: Some details have yet to be released but a North American T-6 Texan impacted in the Gulf of Mexico about a half mile from shore on Saturday. The warbird was seen flying as a part of a five-plane formation doing aerobatic maneuvers over the water.

Around 12:20pm the aircraft were observed flying just off the coast of Topsail Hill State Park in the Florida panhandle.  Witnesses report the aircraft impacted the water just after completing a loop.


File Photo of T-6s Flying in Formation


The Coast Guard reported two bodies have been recovered from about 50 feet of water.  The identity of those aboard, and any airshow team affiliation, have not been released.

12-year-old Claire Escobedo witnessed the incident and told the NW Florida Daily News that she was videoing the planes from the beach when the incident occurred. The 30-second clip has been turned over to investigators.

"I was just watching him with the camera and then he went into the water," said Miss Escobedo.  "We all got scared when he went into the water."

The T-6 is a nearly legendary single-engine low-wing retractable tail dragger used as a training aircraft during World War II and through the 1950's. The plane has been featured in several major films and is popular on the airshow circuit, both as an individual act and in airshow demonstration teams.

FMI: www.NTSB.gov

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