Source: AINONLINERare de Havilland Venom Destroyed, Pilot Killed
by Mark Huber
- July 21, 2018, 9:08 PM
One of less than a half dozen airworthy de Havilland DH 112 Venoms in the world was destroyed when it crashed and burned shortly after takeoff Friday afternoon. The 1957 military jet crashed into a Wisconsin dairy barn. Pilot Martin Tibbitts, 50, of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, the aircraft’s sole occupant, was killed, two workers in the barn were seriously injured, and approximately 50 cattle perished. The aircraft, N747J, registered to the World Heritage Air Museum in Harper Woods, Michigan, was participating in the annual pre-Oshkosh vintage aircraft formation flying clinic at the Aviation Heritage Center at the Sheboygan County Airport (SBY) in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin. The Center stood down operations on Saturday following the crash but planned to resume them on Sunday.
N747J was expected to participate in the 100th-anniversary commemoration of Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) at this year’s Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) annual AirVenture convention which opens on Monday. The subsonic Venom entered service in 1952 as a single-seat fighter-bomber and a two-seat night fighter. The aircraft has a wingspan of 41 feet, 8 inches and a maximum takeoff weight of 15,400 pounds. The aircraft is powered by a single de Havilland Ghost 48 turbojet (4,850 poundsof thrust). The Venom was conceived as an interim aircraft between first-generation straight-wing fighters such and later swept-wing designs. The Venom’s thin wing was said to inspire Bill Lear for the design of the Learjet 23. De Havilland produced approximately 1,430 Venoms in various variants. The aircraft remained in service with its last military operator until the early 1980s.
Separately, on Saturday a 1944 Douglas C-47B, Serial Number 43-49942, with 13 aboard en route to Oshkosh crashed on takeoff in Burnet, Texas. All aboard survived although seven were injured and the aircraft was destroyed by a post-crash fire. The “Bluebonnett Belle” was owned by the Highland Lakes Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF). The aircraft had seen action with the RAF in World War II and later served with the Canadian forces. If was donated to the CAF in 2002 and was later restored.
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