The 2019 annual Hood River Fly-In was marred by tragedy as early-arriving pilots came in Friday, Sept. 6 for the weekend event.
Pilots Ben Davidson and Matthew Titus were killed in an airplane crash at the airport Friday morning (article, Sept. 11 Hood River News).
Davidson and Titus were not only volunteers for the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum but also family members of several within the museum management making this Fly-In extremely difficult for all involved, WAAAM officials said in an emailed statement on Sept. 11.
“In addition to the immediate family, many close friends of both Davidson and Titus were either already at the event or on their way,” said WAAAM Director Judy Newman.
“The museum honored the life of both men with a missing man formation flight on Saturday in addition to the spontaneous celebrations of life that occurred during mealtimes throughout the event.
“With news of the tragedy, the pilot community and the local community came out to support WAAAM and the gathered family during the Fly-In. Many were not deterred by the thunderstorms that occurred on Saturday afternoon/evening in the middle of the event.”
Newman said, “Through their support the fundraiser that started so tragic became a financial success enabling the museum to further its mission in maintaining a flying and driving collection. In total, approximately 300 visiting airplanes were on display with over 4,000 visitors through the doors.
“Heartfelt thanks to our WAAAM volunteers, supporters, members, friends, and community who came together to help the museum soldier on through this deep loss,” Newman said. “We made it a Fly-In that Ben and Matt would have been proud of.”