FAIRFIELD — An investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board said during a brief news conference Monday morning at Travis Air Force Base that his organization is focused on “perishable evidence” from a fatal biplane crash Sunday during the Thunder Over Solano air expo.
Investigator Howard Plagens said the NTSB would focus the earliest steps in its investigation into the Sunday crash on evidence that includes ground scars and the plane’s wreckage, which was expected to be removed Monday from one of the base’s runways to a secured site in Pleasant Grove for further examination.
The NTSB had already received as many as 100 videos of the crash, Plagens said. They were already being reviewed as part of the investigation.
Many of the videos are from spectators who lined the runway as part of the air show that organizers estimated drew a crowd of 100,000 people. The crash prompted the closure of the event and the base.
Plagens said part of the investigation would include scrutiny of the response time by emergency responders to the crash scene. Witnesses said that as long as five minutes passed between the crash and the first emergency crews to get to the wreckage of the plane flown by 77-year-old Eddie Andreini of Half Moon Bay.
Base spokesman Jim Spellman said crews were dispatched promptly and responded within a minute or two. A hotshot team from the base was among the responders, he said.
Andreini was flying his restored 1944 Stearman biplane in a maneuver called a “low-level inverted pass ribbon cutting,” in which a ribbon is stretched horizontally to the tarmac, a few feet off the ground, and is cut by a blade on the passing plane. Andreini’s plane, upside down, dropped out of the sky and hit the tarmac before reaching the ribbon, witnesses said.
Plagens told reporters during the 10-minute press conference that he was unaware of any indication of distress by Andreini to the control tower before the crash.
Plagens said it could be nine months or longer before the preliminary NTSB investigation report is completed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.