We would like to express our sincerest condolences to the friends and family of David Vopat, the pilot of the Planes of Fame’ Northrop N9MB ‘Flying Wing’, both recently lost in a crash just outside of Chino, CA. Dave was a pilot and mechanic at Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, CA, and played a major role in the preservation and operation of this one-of-a-kind aircraft. More detailed information can be found on their website located here: Tribute to David Vopat
The N-9M was a unique national treasure and the fatal crash has left us deeply saddened. Our thoughts are with the pilot’s family, our Planes of Fame friends and the warbird community at large, all of whom are deeply effected by the sorrow of this loss.
We realize that an unfortunate event like this will raise the question of risk vs. reward, so we are including here a recent post from our social media outlets by one of our own volunteers:
“Why do we do this? Why take on the risks of operating vintage aircraft, sometimes paying that ultimate cost?
Far from being adrenaline junkies pushing the latest energy drink, in our opinion, we do this to follow our passions and seek a connection with the brave men and women of an important part of our collective history. To not do so, would condemn these aircraft to becoming dusty, soulless relics in museums and within pages of history books, soon to be forgotten along with what they stood for and the price that was paid by a generation of people to preserve our freedoms.
It offers little comfort to the larger surviving family of this tragedy, but thank you for doing what you do, may we take some solace from the thought that to follow one’s passions in life is a blessing few can boast. We’ll miss the N9MB and even more, our friend who has traded one set of wings for another.”