A long-time pilot who was a “skilled instructor” with extensive military service died in a biplane crash Saturday afternoon at the Airshow of The Cascades in Madras.
Marcus Bruce Paine, 61, was flying a Boeing Stearman biplane just before 3 p.m., according to a release from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
According to one spectator, the plane was doing a very low altitude loop with the smoke trail, and about three-quarters of the way around the loop, Paine tried to pull up but the bottom of the plane still hit the ground.
“It bounced pretty hard on its belly and then slid a few feet,” said Mike Albright, of Bend, who was there watching and photographing the show.
Paine lived in his hometown of Anchorage, Alaska, for more than 40 years, according to the Cascade Airshow website’s page about the pilot. He was raised on a homestead in Rabbit Creek.
The page described Paine as a “skilled instructor” who had been a pilot for more than 20 years. He taught “pilots of all skill levels new ways of thinking about the principles of flight,” according to the website.
Paine was a distinguished graduate of the Virginia Military Institute and a former U.S. Army Special Forces officer, airborne Ranger and jumpmaster. He also commanded a combat dive A Team, working in the Middle East and South America, according to the website.
Mike Wissing, a squadron commander with High Desert Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, was working the event at the time of the crash. He said it was emergency responders, already on standby at the air show, who pulled Paine out of the plane as it began to burn. Jefferson County Ambulance and Fire were at the airshow, according to the release.
“The airplane literally hit the ground and those people were running over,” Wissing said.
Wissing, of Redmond, and Albright both said an air ambulance also arrived quickly. Albright said the man was put in the vehicle ambulance, not the helicopter.
Right after the crash occurred there wasn’t commotion, Albright said.
“Everyone was kind of in shock a little bit to start, and the announcers were very calm,” Albright said, explaining announcers advised parents to steer their children away.
Like Albright, Wissing described the accident as happening as the pilot came out of “a low-level loop.” Wissing said his guess is Paine had a high-speed stall.
“It’s a well-known thing that happens when you’re pulling up too hard,” he said, adding that there could have been something wrong with the plane though.
The Federal Aviation Administration, which was at the airshow, will investigate the crash, and officials from the National Transportation Safety Board will also be coming to investigate, according to the news release. The sheriff’s office will also investigate with the help of Madras Police Department.
Sheriff Jim Adkins said Saturday night he remembers a similar crash that resulted in a death at the Madras Airport more than 10 years ago. Like Paine, Tom Ellsberg, a well-known aerobatic pilot and Bend resident, was practicing aerobatic maneuvers in June 2005 when his single-passenger airplane crashed, killing him. The Airshow of the Cascades has been held at the airport since 2000.
Following the crash, people started to wrap up the show, according to Wissing and Albright, who did not know the pilot had died.
Wissing said he’s been going to the annual air show at the Madras Airport for 10 years. It’s the first crash he’s heard of happening at that airport.
“It’s very, very unfortunate, but it’s one of those things,” Wissing said.
A spokesman for the Madras Airport could not be reached for comment.
— Reporter: 541-383-0325,