Aerial showman Steven Carl O’Berg had more than 30 years of experience and a lifelong love for flying.
The 50-year-old Smithville pilot died Saturday when his biplane crashed at the Cameron Airshow.
“Steve loved to share his passion for aviation,” his sister, Julie Harper, said outside the Smithville police station Sunday. “Which is why performing at local airshows gave him great pride.”
O’Berg was flying his Pitts S2-B biplane at the airshow about 50 miles north of Kansas City shortly before 2 p.m. when witnesses said they heard his engine die during a stunt as it was descending low. Videos of his flight show the plane in a free fall, then the engine catching for a moment before it continues into a stand of trees.
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Harper, who read a prepared statement, said O’Berg’s love for flying began before he was 10, flying with his father and brother. He was a skilled pilot, she said, with more than 30 years of flying experience in both military and private planes.
“Steven was a husband, father, grandfather, son and brother,” Harper said. “His loss is devastating to family and friends.”
A website on the pilot told of his vast experience with flight, beginning when he sat on his brother’s lap while his father flew them around Oklahoma City.
He spent 23 years in the Army, accumulating more than 4,000 hours of military flight including more than 400 combat hours over Iraq, the website said.
His civilian flight experience covered a long list of planes and helicopters. O’Berg performed in many air shows in Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska, the site said, but the Cameron Airshow was the show where he made his aerobatic debut.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.