The NTSB's preliminary report about the crash of a plane in the Poconos that killed pilot Andy "Trav" Travnicek who lived in Hampton shows his plane was having issues almost immediately after takeoff during a practice run for an air show.

Travnicek was piloting a World War II era plane for the GEICO Skytypers team at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Airport before the Great Pocono Raceway Air Show on August 20.

According to the report Travnicek's plane, the number 3 plane of a six-plane formation, made a left turn at 100 feet in the air. The nose went down, and the airplane departed controlled flight. The smoke system then turned on and the airplane hit the ground near a runway.

The first sign of trouble was when Travnicek did not nod in the affirmative to the pilot of plane number 4 that his landing gear had retracted as he came into position alongside, according to the report.  The pilot of plane four noticed that the landing gear on Travnicek's plane was retracting and the plane was starting to decelerate as another pilot said "three's got an emergency."

Travnicek's plane was turning and rolling, and as it went through about 20° of a bank and continued to slow. The bank then continued to increase as it was descending. The smoke system then came on, the airplane hit the ground and caught fire on impact. The fire caused severe damage to the plane and the cockpit.

Video taken by a witness behind a fence showed the propeller slowing down and an audible popping noise the report described as sounding like a backfiring engine.

The Skytypers flew the day before at an air show in Atlantic City in front of thousands that lined the boardwalk. They are scheduled to perform during the Thunder Over New Hampshire air show at the Pease Air National Guard Base.

The US Air Force paid tribute to Travnicek, a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate and 20 year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, at the Pocono show with the missing man formation.

Originally from Southbridge, Mass., Travnicek and his wife Sandy lived in Hampton.

The Air Force Thunderbirds fly a missing man formation in honor of Andy Travnicek at the Pocono Airshow
The Air Force Thunderbirds fly a missing man formation in honor of Andy Travnicek at the Pocono Airshow (Pocono Raceway)

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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