EAA and the International Aerobatic Club are mourning the tragic loss of IAC President Vicki Cruse, who perished in a plane crash while participating at the World Aerobatic Championships in England earlier today. She was 41.
Cruse was flying as a member of the USA Unlimited Aerobatic Team in the biennial world meet held at Silverstone, Buckingham, England. A local police spokeswoman said that authorities were notified early Saturday afternoon (U.K. time) that a single aircraft taking part in the competition had come down on the circuit.
Cruse was pronounced dead at the scene. No one else was injured in the incident. Investigators from the British Civil Aviation Authority are on their way to the scene to begin their investigation.
American team manager Norm DeWitt said Cruse was flying the early-round "Q" program when she lost control of her Zivko Edge 540 aircraft by what appeared to be a mechanical problem in flight. She was at an altitude that prevented her from bailing out of the aircraft.
“The USA lost one of its most outstanding pilots, and the IAC lost the finest President we have ever had,” DeWitt said. “More information will be made available to IAC members as soon as it becomes available. We all suffer the heartbreak of a horrific loss and extend our deepest sympathy to Vicki’s family.”
Cruse was re-elected as IAC president last month and in that role, also served as an EAA director and board member. According to IAC’s bylaws, newly elected vice president Doug Sowder will assume the president’s duties.
“Vicki was an outstanding competitor and was passionate about flying, her leadership as IAC President, and as an EAA Director,” EAA chairman/president Tom Poberezny said. “Her flying skills and enthusiasm were highly valued. This is a tremendous loss for aviation, EAA and IAC. Our condolences go to Vicki’s family and many friends.”
Cruse was born in Springfield, Mo., and had logged more than 2,500 hours of flight time, nearly all of it in tail-wheel aircraft. She won the U.S. national unlimited aerobatic championship in 2007, and had been a member of the U.S. national team in 2002, 2004 and 2006, as well as this year.
Among Cruse’s other aviation accomplishments were U.S. sportsman class national champion in 1998; intermediate division champion at the Championships of the Americas in 2000; and became the first woman to qualify to race in the sport class at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nev.
Cruse, whose educational and professional background was in marine biology, also wrote a technical counselor column for IAC’s monthly Sport Aerobatics magazine. She had served as IAC president since 2005.
More information on funeral services for Cruse will be posted as it is confirmed.
Share your thoughts and memories of Vicki at Gone West online.