ND pilot killed while practicing for air showA well-known North Dakota pilot who has participated in air shows throughout the country died after his plane crashed while he was practicing for a Valley City show.
VALLEY CITY, N.D. (AP) — A well-known North Dakota pilot who has participated in air shows throughout the country died after his plane crashed while he was practicing for a Valley City show.
Robert Odegaard, 66, of Kindred, died Friday when his 1945 Super Corsair airplane went down at the Barnes County Municipal Airport at 5:55 p.m, the Highway Patrol said.
Witnesses said Odegaard was attempting a barrel roll prior to the crash.
Highway Patrol Sgt. Troy Hischer said authorities aren't yet sure if the crash was caused by mechanical or human error. Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration arrived on the scene Friday night.
“Something went terribly wrong and he crashed,” Hischer told the (Fargo) Forum newspaper.
Larry Welken, vice chairman of the airport's board of directors, was on the field helping fuel planes when the crash happened.
“It looked like he was possibly trying to get out of the plane, like he knew something was wrong,” said Welken, a pilot for 35 years. “He just plowed into the ground.”
Odegaard founded and operated Odegaard Aviation, a fixed-base operation and aerial spray firm. He was active in the formation of the Fargo Air Museum, where he was a board member. He also was a member of the board of directors for the North Dakota Aviation Association.
Odegaard has received numerous aviation honors, including the Henderson Air Racing History Award, the Aviation Mechanic Safety Award, the 1999 Aviation Heritage Trophy, and the 1999 People's Choice National Aviation Heritage Invitation.
He also had been involved with production of the aviation movie “Thunder Over Reno.”
“I'm kind of stung by it. It's a shock,” said Dick Walstad, co-chairman of the Fargo air show. “He's one of those guys where if it had wings, he could fly it.”
Dennis Helland, chairman of the Barnes County Airport Authority, told KOVC radio that Odegaard was a legend in the flying community and was known nationwide.
The Valley City air show has been cancelled. Said Helland, “People that are scheduled to perform ... don't want to fly.”