Pilot preparing for air show dies in crash at Pennsylvania airport, officials say

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A pilot preparing for an air show died in a plane crash after leaving a Pennsylvania airport, officials said.

The GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team said pilot Andy Travnicek was killed Friday afternoon when his plane crashed after departure from Wilkes-Barre Scranton Airport in Avoca. The team was scheduled to perform Saturday at The Great Pocono Raceway Airshow.

Airport director Carl Beardsley said Travnicek’s plane was traveling north when it suddenly flew left and crashed and caught fire, The Associated Press reported.

“A thorough investigation is already underway,” GEICO Skytypers said in a statement. “The team is working with local law enforcement, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. Our thoughts and prayers are with Andy’s wife and family at this time.”

Travnicek, who lived in New Hampshire with his wife, was also a commercial pilot who graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy and served in Spain, Qatar and Afghanistan, the air show team said.

“He enjoyed flying warbirds to honor the men and women of all eras and all branches of the U.S. military,” GEICO Skytypers said. “Andy aspired to inspire young people to pursue interests and careers in aviation.”

Travnicek was flying a T-6 Texan that was to be part of the air show on Saturday, the AP reported. The Great Pocono Raceway Airshow organizers said the event will continue as planned “with the support of the GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team.”

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, who are performing at the air show this weekend, said in a statement that Travnicek was “a phenomenal pilot and friend.”

“The collective hearts of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are with Trav, his family, his friends and his demonstration team during this time,” the team posted on Facebook.

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