Eddie Andreini -- a veteran 77-year-old pilot from Half Moon Bay -- was performing an aerial maneuver that was a staple of his routine when his Super Stearman biplane crashed at the "Thunder Over Solano" air show at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield on Sunday afternoon, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
At a news conference Monday, spokesman Howard Plagens said the focus on the fatal crash will begin with recovering the Stearman biplane that crashed about 2 p.m. at the Travis Air Force Base in Fairfeld before thousands of people who were there.
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Plagens said Andreini was performing "a low-level inverted pass to cut a ribbon" when he crashed. The show was canceled after the crash.
The stunt in the restored 1944 Super Stearman biplane was part of the repertoire Andreini performed at air shows along the West Coast.
Andreini was pronounced dead at the scene.
Andreini was feted at a dinner April 26 on the eve of the Pacific Coast Dream Show at Half Moon Bay Airport, said Tim Beeman, an organizer of the show.
Beeman said Andreini was "a wonderful, generous, gracious man and absolute pillar and leader in the Half Moon Bay community, contributing to countless causes in his own quiet way."
Half Moon Bay Mayor John Muller described Andreini as a lifelong friend to the community.
“It’s hard for the family, but it’s hard for all of us on the coast,” Muller said.
Muller says Andreini’s construction company paved nearly every road in town, put in most of the city’s water pipes and would do anything to help a neighbor in need.
“If we’re thinking we’re down and out, just got to remember Eddie and think of all the good things he does for people,” Muller said.
The flags outside the Three-Zero Café in Moss Beach, where Andreini used to hold court and his picture hangs from the wall, are flying at half-staff.
Mark Smith, the café’s owner, said Andreini was a guy who always seemed to have time to share.
“Young kids used to come in the restaurant and he’d take ‘em out and let them climb in the plane,” Smith said. “He just really got a kick out of sharing his love of aviation with people. That’s what he did. That’s what he was all about.”
Andreini was recently named to the International Council of Air Shows Hall of Fame and was one of the top stunt pilots in the world, Beeman said.
Andreini did not perform at the Pacific Coast Dream Machines Show on April 27, but was scheduled to perform at the Hollister Air Show on May 25-26 and at the Watsonville Air Show on Aug. 30 to Sept. 1.