Former Sikorsky president killed in Arizona plane crash

A former president of the Sikorsky Aircraft Corp was identified on Saturday as one of two people killed when a vintage military plane crashed in Arizona on Friday, authorities said.

The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office said Jeffrey Pino, 61, of Chandler, Arizona, died in the crash in Maricopa, about 30 miles south of Phoenix.

Pino served as president of Sikorsky, a Connecticut-based unit of Lockheed Martin Corp that builds helicopters, from 2006 to 2012, according to a company newsletter.

Sikorsky did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

At the time of the crash, Pino was vice chairman of XTI Aircraft Co, a closely held aviation company based in Denver.

“Jeff was a brilliant strategist, visionary and expert in all things aviation,” said David Brody, chairman of XTI, which is developing the TriFan 600, described by the company as the “first commercial high-speed, long-range vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) airplane.”

The single-engine North American F-51D in which Pino was flying crashed and then caught fire around midday in Maricopa, the Federal Aviation Administration said on Friday.

The circumstances surrounding the crash were unknown, it said.

The plane was a one-seater modified with a second seat, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office said. The second victim was identified as Nickolas Tramontano, 72, of Brookfield, Connecticut.

Vertical, a helicopter industry magazine, said Pino had performed at air shows and spent 17 years with Bell Helicopter and served in the U.S. military.

Last August, XTI Aircraft launched an equity crowdfunding campaign to raise $50 million to fund production of the TriFan 600, a six-seat fixed-wing jet that can take off and land like a helicopter.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Additional reporting by David Schwartz in Phoenix; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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