HARRISON TOWNSHIP (WWJ/AP) – Statements to the National Transportation Safety Board say a Michigan wing walker who fell to his death while performing an aerial stunt during a show at Selfridge Air National Guard Base may have tried to transfer from a plane to a helicopter too soon.
Summaries of the accounts of both pilots involved in the Aug. 21 stunt are included in a recently released preliminary report from the agency. They said Todd Green planned to make the transfer on the third pass, but let go of the plane earlier than expected.
The NTSB report indicates that Green was supposed to wait for a cue from the helicopter pilot indicating he was in the proper position.
“The wing walker jumped to reach the skid on the helicopter before it was in position, letting go of the handle on the airplane,” according to the NTSB’s account of the plane pilot’s statement. “The wing walker was unable to regain a hold of the handle on the airplane and fell.”
The NTSB said the preliminary report doesn’t say why the accident happened. It also does not say whether wind speed or a bird played a part in the accident.
Wing walker Todd Green tried to grab a helicopter’s skid from his perch atop a small plane over Harrison Township on Aug. 21 at the Selfridge Air Show. Scores of bystanders saw the 48-year-old Ann Arbor man fall about 150 feet and land about 1,500 feet from the crowd.
“The helicopter pilot stated that the wing walker… lunged with both hands for the helicopter skid before the aircraft were in position. He reported that the wing walker attempted to go back to the airplane, but was unable to grab on to anything,” the report said.
Green, an experienced stuntman, was the son of prominent aerial stuntman Eddie Green, who was inducted into the International Council of Air Shows Foundation Hall of Fame in 2006.
“Based on the preliminary report of the NTSB, it would be reasonable to assume that if there is any fault to be given, it would be that of the wing walker,” John Cudahy, president of the International Council of Air Shows, told The Detroit News. “Ultimately, all people will be able to do is speculate, because the only person who knows why Todd did what he did is Todd himself.”
A final report is not expected to be released until at least August 2012.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.