Air show pilot killed, biplane 'totaled'

Aug. 18, 2008 at 6:04 PM

RHINEBECK, N.Y., Aug. 18 (UPI) -- A veteran pilot was killed when a World War I replica biplane crashed at a Rhinebeck, N.Y., antique-aviation air show, police said Monday.

Vincent Nasta, 47, of Long Island's Wading River, N.Y., a pilot and flight instructor, was the plane's only occupant, police said.

He was also an art teacher at Riverhead (N.Y.) High School and an illustrator of children's books, including "Plane Song" for preschoolers.

The 11-year-old single-engine replica 1917 French Nieuport 24bis fighter plane, flying in a mock World War I dogfight, crash-landed and burst into flames about 300 yards from the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome as spectators watched in horror, witnesses said.

The amateur-built plane -- which belonged to the aerodrome, 85 miles north of New York City, and received an airworthiness certificate May 29 -- was "totaled" in the crash, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Arlene Salac told United Press International.

The dogfight's other plane, a replica Fokker Dr. I triplane, landed safely, witnesses said.

The Dr. I, often the "villain" in Rhinebeck reenactments, was the plane in which German fighter pilot Manfred von Richthofen, known as "The Red Baron," gained many air combat victories and in which he was killed April 21, 1918.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating Sunday's crash with help from the FAA, both agencies said.

Neither agency would speculate on the crash's cause.

The NTSB expects to release a preliminary report "in about 10 business days" and a final report in eight to 11 months, air safety investigator Dennis Diaz told UPI.

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