The WWII Airborne Demonstration Team has lost one of their own. Sharon Bennett, WWII Airborne Demonstration Team member and volunteer was contacted by the Frederick Press-Leader and reported, “A press release is being prepared by the team and will probably be released later today.” Tillman County Sheriff Bobby Whittington was contacted and he confirmed there was a parachute accident at the Frederick Airfield on Tuesday, July 22 that resulted in the fatality of a jumper.
Whittington stated, “We are investigating an accident that happened last night.” He further reported, “There was either an equipment malfunction or a medical emergency.” Whittington referred to the deceased WWII ADT member stating, “They think he might have had a heart attack.” He further explained, “There might have been a minor equipment malfunction.” Whittington also stated, “He had a pretty good size canopy, the experts out there do not think he could have had enough velocity to sustain that type of injury.” This comment was in reference to the on-going investigation including whether the cause of the accident was due to equipment malfunction or as a result of a medical emergency experienced by the individual. Whittington reported, “Emergency first aid was administered at the scene and he was transported to the Frederick Hospital where he passed away.”
The Tillman County Sheriff Department will continue to investigate the incident in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Administration according to Whittington. “They (the FAA) will be here today.” This accident is especially disturbing for Frederick community members as they have attended multiple Open Hangar Day demonstrations annually for the past several years. The WWII ADT has another Open Hangar Day scheduled for this Saturday, July 26 in Frederick. It was not clear at press time whether this celebration will continue as planned or if a memorial service will be held in place of the usual demonstration parachute jumps.
ADT member Sharon Bennett hosted two of the team members this past Monday at the Frederick Rotary Club. The members presented a slide show of their recent trip to Normandy, France and spoke about their experience participating in the “D-Day plus 70” reenactment parachute jump involving jumpers from all over the world.