RHINEBECK, N.Y. – A veteran pilot and flight instructor died after crashing a World War I replica biplane during a Hudson Valley air show.
Vincent Nasta of Wading River, N.Y. was flying a single-engine French plane in a simulated dogfight Sunday afternoon with a German plane when it crashed about 1,000 feet from the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, authorities said. The plane landed in a wooded area and caught fire. Nasta, 47, was the sole occupant.
"The biplane broke away and nose-dived," 43-year-old spectator Robert Spanburgh of Saugerties told the Daily Freeman of Kingston. "Then it disappeared behind the trees and never came back up."
The replica 1917 Neiuport 24 biplane belonged to the aerodrome, which is about 85 miles north of New York City. The facility holds regularly scheduled exhibitions that include dogfights and barnstorming flights in vintage planes.
The Federal Aviation Administration is assisting the National Transportation Safety Board in the investigation, FAA spokeswoman Arlene Salac said.
Nasta was an art teacher at Riverhead High School and illustrator of children's books who flew planes recreationally. He had flown both restored originals and replicas in numerous air shows and was also a certified commercial flight instructor, according to officials at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. He is survived by his wife. A telephone listing for Nasta couldn't be located Monday.
"He was a beloved educator, a consummate professional and a humanitarian in every since of the word," Riverhead School District Superintendent Diane Scricca told The Associated Press. "He was the kind of guy who devoted a lot of time and effort to those who needed it. It's a huge loss, not just for our district but to the community."
There have been three other plane accidents at the aerodrome since 2001, but none of them were fatal.