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Wing walker killed in fall from airplane

Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Air National Guard are trying to determine what caused a fatal accident involving an aerial stunt performer. The National Transportation Safety Board is also considering whether it should conduct its own investigation.

The Michigan man, who was standing on the wing of an airplane in flight, attempted to grab a strap hanging from the skid of a helicopter flying just overhead. Officials say that he lost his balance and fell 200 feet to the ground below.

The performance took place during an air show at the Selfridge Air National Guard Base located in Southeastern Michigan. Over 75,000 spectators witnessed the accident which resulted in the death of the wing walker.

It is unclear if the wind, which was measured at 15 mph at the time of the accident, was a factor in the fatal fall. The experienced stunt performer had completed the same routine successfully a day earlier in similar wind and weather conditions.

The 127th Wing commander of the Air National Guard unit at Selfridge expressed concern for the family of the stunt performer as well as for the thousands of people who witnessed the fatal fall.

The Selfridge Air National Guard sponsors the air show which is currently scheduled for every other summer. The air base began hosting the show after it first opened in 1917.

The death of the wing walker was the most recent fatality at the base after a plane crash claimed the life of a pilot in 1994.

Source: Detroit Free Press "Officials investigate Selfridge Air Show accident that killed stuntman" Elisha Anderson, Aug. 22, 2011

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