L39 crash in Boulder

The pilot of the Aero Vodochody L39 that crashed near the Boulder City Airport has been identified as Douglass E. Gilliss, 65 of Solano Beach, Calif., according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The passenger on board, as reported by the LVRJ, was Richard A. Winslow, 65, of Palmdale, Calif. According to Red Steel Jet Team spokesperson, Gilliss was flying out of Boulder City for California where he was schedule to take a commercial flight to Kansas City, Mo. for an air show. The pilot of a jet fighter plane that crashed near Boulder City Friday has been identified as Douglas Gilliss by members of the Red Steel Jet Team, of which Gilliss was a member. A note posted on Red Steel’s Facebook page Saturday morning stated “Yesterday just outside of Boulder City, NV we lost Doug in an air plane crash on his way to Van Nuys, California…Doug’s aviation resume is and will remain one of the most respected in the industry.” The accident occurred Friday around 12:30 p.m. about a half-mile west of the Boulder City Airport. According to Federal Aviation Administration, a Czech-made Aero Vodochody L39 jet crashed for unknown reasons in a mostly barren desert area near a string of power lines.

Local authorities have confirmed that two people aboard the plane were killed, but have not officially identified either victim. According to his profile on Red Steel’s website, Gilliss was a former United States Air Force Pilot who flew more than 5,800 hours during his 30-year career. He was a certified FAA safety counselor and had developed and taught curriculum for the L-39. A second L39 jet that took off alongside Gillis’s jet Friday circled the airport and landed safely, witnesses said. Charles Nevel, a custodian at the airport, said he saw the planes take off in tandem. The jet that crashed peeled off and slowly descended before it went out of sight behind a building, he said. The same plane had safely taken off and landed earlier in the day, he said. According to employees at various businesses at the airport, some of whom monitor aircraft radio chatter, the jet experienced some sort of difficulty when taking off. Moments after a puff of smoke appeared, the pilot radioed “mayday!” before the aircraft crashed. The National Transportation Safety Board is the lead investigator in the accident, and will release a report of its findings in the coming weeks.