LONG POND, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A somber tribute was held at an event in the Poconos, known for its noise, which comes after Friday’s tragic death of an airshow pilot at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.
Eyewitness News was at Pocono Raceway Saturday afternoon for the airshow and experienced the emotional dedication. And in that moment, the stillness and peace of the crowd paid respect to the pilot who would have performed at the show.
“We can look at it as a celebration of life and a celebration of doing what he loved,” Mark Mearhoff of Easton said.
As thousands settled into their seats on opening day of The Great Pocono Raceway Airshow,
a pause preceded the loud rumbles of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.
Geico Skytyper pilot Andy Travnicek lost his life during a practice run on the eve of the airshow. The loss of the military veteran and Air Force graduate cast a dark shadow on a day of excitement for so many.
“It makes me feel sad, obviously. When I heard that news, it kind of put a damper on the day. I was thinking about it on the way up,” Mearhoff said.
But the show did go on, in Travnicek’s honor. With heavy hearts, guests watched pilots flip and fly sideways through the air.
“It just makes people kinda think twice about how dangerous what they’re doing really can be,” Rebecca Leddy of Gilbertsville said.
On the ground, the reality of a profession whose dangers can be deadly; the second Geico Skytypers pilot killed in three years.
“I know they probably know the risks when they get involved with this, but that doesn’t mean that you expect something to happen or that it’s an easy thing to deal with. I hope that they’re doing everything they can to make it safe for everyone involved,” Leddy said.
The airshow continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.