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Pilot killed at Kansas City air show

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Air show crash witness speaks
  • Pilot of biplane dies when craft crashes
  • He was doing maneuvers at the time
  • Footage shows smoke and flames near runway

For more on this story, go to CNN affiliate KMBC

(CNN) -- The pilot of a high-performance biplane died Saturday afternoon when his aircraft crashed at an air show in Kansas City, Missouri, officials said.

The plane was doing maneuvers around 1:45 p.m. CT (2:45 p.m. ET) when it crashed into grass near a runway at the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport, said Joe McBride, spokesman for the Kansas City Aviation Department.

Footage from CNN affiliate KMBC showed smoke and flames rising from the site.

"I was watching the plane when it did the roll and it was coming down and still spinning," eyewitness Ryan Bader told CNN affiliate KSHB. Like others, Bader expected the plane to pull up and continue the maneuvers.

Air show director Ed Noyallis identified the victim as Bryan Jensen, who grew up in Iowa and flies for Delta Air Lines.

According to the show's website, Jensen piloted the "Beast," described as "a one of a kind aircraft."

The Kansas City Aviation Expo Air Show was closed for the remainder of the day. It will reopen Sunday, officials said.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were on site.

The public was never in any danger, Noyallis told reporters.

"Our hearts go out to Bryan's family and loved ones and we are devastated by this terrible accident," Noyallis said. "Aerobatic flying can be a dangerous thing as evidenced by today's accident."

According to the show's website, the small Horizon Hobby biplane is "the only piston-powered biplane on (the) air show circuit with a thrust to weight ratio greater than 1:1."

CNN's Divina Mims contributed to this report.