Eddie Andreini’s plane slid to a stop at show center and caught fire. Eddie was trapped inside. The crowd watched, prayed, and waited for fire trucks to arrive. Some bystanders wanted to rush to the plane to help Eddie get out, but the announcer warned everyone to stay back and "let the firefighters do their job."
But the firefighters didn’t do their job. By the time the trucks showed up, almost 5 minutes had passed and it was too late. Eddie survived the impact unharmed, but died of burn injuries.
The Travis Air Force base fire trucks were supposed to be positioned at show center so that, in case of a crash, they would have immediate access to the runway. Where were they? Those who were at last year’s "Thunder Over Solano" air show want to know and so does Eddie’s family. But within hours of Eddie’s death the Air Force closed ranks. Since then, it has simply refused to explain itself to anybody.
- The Air Force declined to answer any questions at all from the family in the days and weeks following the accident.
- Though it had by law only 20 days to respond to our formal request under the Freedom of Information Act, the Air Force ignored that deadline altogether and gave us nothing.
- The Air Force had six months to respond to the family’s official claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act. That deadline has also long passed. The Air Force hasn’t offered so much as a phone call in response.
So what is the Air Force hiding?
It looks as though there are three three things the Air Force doesn’t want to talk about.
First, Travis didn’t place its trucks at show center as it was supposed to. Instead, it parked them more than a mile away. 1.3 miles away, to be exact.
Second, Travis brass told the firefighters that, in responding to any fire, they could drive their trucks down the taxiways no faster than 25 miles per hour. That speed limit applied to all the fire trucks, including the Air Force’s so-called "Rapid Intervention Vehicle," designed and built to get to the scene at top speed and start applying foam before the big trucks arrive.
Third, the Travis firemen may not have been in their station and ready to respond like they were supposed to be. Rather, it looks as though they may have been out across the field taking pictures of airplanes parked on the grass.
Today we filed suit against the Air Force on behalf of Eddie’s family. The Air Force has 60 days to respond.