DETROIT — A Michigan wing walker who fell to his death as he tried to grab a helicopter’s skid from his perch atop a small plane had successfully performed the same maneuver many times before, a former colleague said Monday.
Todd Green, the son of a prominent aerial stuntman and a skilled one himself, was one of only two people to ever do the stunt, said Kyle Franklin, a stunt pilot and former wing walker who once worked with him.
“He was very good at it. I’ve seen him do that many, many times,” Franklin said. “He was always on spot and did a very good job with everything he did.”
Green, who died Sunday after falling 200 feet from the plane during an annual air show at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, successfully completed the stunt the day before, said Technical Sgt. Dan Heaton, a base spokesman.
His death came a day after two pilots died in separate crashes at air shows in Missouri and England.
Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board investigators were at the base about 20 miles northeast of Detroit on Monday looking into Green’s fall, Heaton said. The FAA said it could not release any details yet about Green’s death.
The air show started Friday and drew about 75,000 spectators Sunday. Scores saw Green fall and land about 1,500 from the crowd, Heaton said.
Green, 48, of Ann Arbor, 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. Eddie Green was known for doing a car-to-plane transfer, according to the Hall of Fame’s website.
Todd Green also was an experienced stuntman, said Franklin, who last performed with him in 2009.
“He was an excellent stuntman and had been around for years,” Franklin said. “I grew up kind of watching him wing walk from time to time.
“He enjoyed it very much. He did get a thrill out of it. Most of us in this business aren’t necessarily adrenaline junkies. We do it because we love performing, being in front of a crowd and entertaining them.”
Silver Wings Wingwalking Team member Margaret Stivers called Green a friend and “professional colleague.”
“His father is a legend and in the air show hall of fame, so Todd can be considered air show royalty,” Stivers wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. “Yet, Todd was a humble person.
“I respected him and his difficult stunt work. The air show world is small and even closer is the stunt-wing walker family. For me, this is like a hit in the gut.”