Vignettes of Victims of Reno Air Race Crash

By: News Staff Email
By: News Staff Email
A brief look at some of the people who died in the crash of a vintage airplane during an air race Friday in Reno, Nev. The list is partial; some victims have not yet been identified.

Courtesy of Garrett Woodman via CNN

A brief look at some of the people who died in the crash of a vintage airplane during an air race Friday in Reno, Nev. The list is partial; some victims have not yet been identified:
When his older brother couldn't attend the annual air racing event in Reno, 22-year-old Michael Wogan went instead, seeing it as a chance for a father-and-son vacation. He excitedly promised to tell his siblings all about it when he returned home. The Phoenix-area man who overcame a disability to earn a college degree and start his own Internet company, died in the crash Friday. A family spokesman says Wogan, who had muscular dystrophy, was sitting with his father in an area for wheelchairs at the event's VIP boxes. "Michael liked to get out and travel and he was so excited about getting on a plane as part of this trip," James Wogan, the youngest brother at age 19, said in a statement. "His motto in life was, `The only disability in life is a bad attitude."' The Scottsdale, Ariz., family was especially proud when Michael graduated in May magna cum laude with a finance degree from Arizona State University. "He would have made it big ... but mostly he just wanted to be happy," James Wogan said. "I'm going to live my life as he could have lived his life. I'm going to do well."

A veteran air racer and movie stunt pilot, Jimmy Leeward was a well-known member of the tight-knit flying community that made Reno's National Championship Air Races an annual destination. The Ocala, Fla., real estate salesman owned the Leeward Air Ranch Racing Team, had flown more than 120 races and served as a movie stunt pilot, according to his website. Leeward, 74, died when his prized vintage plane, The Galloping Ghost, plummeted into an area near the grandstands at the races. He'd grown up in Fort Wayne, Ind., getting his private pilot's license at age 16, said Joan Knapp, who worked at his father's air business, Leeward Aeronautical Services. According to a Florida newspaper interview with Leeward in 2006, he took over his father's Fort Wayne operations after his dad moved to Florida. The younger man and his wife, Bette, moved to Ocala, Fla., in 1962 to start the Leeward Air Ranch., a residential airpark. "Jimmy was born to fly," Knapp said. He and his wife had two adult sons, Dirk and Kent, according to his website.
Greg Morcom was attending the air races in Reno for the first time, an event his father and brother had been to many times, according to his family. He was at the show with four family members when the World War II-era plane slammed like a missile in a crowded tarmac area. Family friend Gene Jones told KOMO-TV that Morcom, 47, worked in construction and lived with his parents in Marysville, north of Seattle. Jones said he enjoyed Morcom's humor and joking nature.
A former Air Canada pilot and his wife were among the spectators in a box for the Cascade Warbirds, a Washington-based group of vintage airplane owners and their supporters. George and Wendy Hewitt were among those killed when the 1940s-era plane crashed Friday, a family member told The Seattle Times. They reportedly had moved recently from Washington to Fort Mohave, Ariz., after George Hewitt retired. He was born in Winnipeg and flew as a pilot with Air Canada for more than 40 years, and his brother, Wayne, said he remained an enthusiastic pilot upon retirement. The Times reported that Hewitt owned a small post-World War II plane originally built by the same company that produced the P-51 Mustang, the model that crashed in Reno. The Hewitts reportedly had four children, all living in British Columbia.

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