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Franklin admits he's troubled by the fact that the cause of the 2011 engine failure has never been explained, even after a full investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. The plane's engine had been freshly overhauled, he noted.
Younkin said he's looked forward to flying at Air Fiesta again in part because he loves the venue but also because of the friendships he's made with the people in the Commemorative Air Force Rio Grande Valley Wing who put on the air show each year.
2011," he said. "Part of it is it's nice to come back and fly in Amanda's memory. We're continuing to do this the way we've always done it. I miss Amanda every day, but you've got to keep on keeping on."
Matt Younkin, bringing his sleek, twin engine, red and black Beech 18 back to Air Fiesta for the first time since 2011, Authentic Fendi Tote
Franklin thinks Amanda would have supported whatever he decided to do.
"At the end of the day, you want to go home and see your family. I've got a little girl at home and I plan on walking down the aisle one day. If I thought that what I was doing was excessively risky, I would find something else to do."
At the same time, his airplane is maintained to standards far exceeding most aircraft and certainly most Beech 18s, Younkin said. He's also designed his aerobatic routine to be as safe as possible, despite how death defying it may look to the average spectator.
"I'll admit (quitting) crossed my mind," he said. "I love this business and I love performing, but my family has paid a high price in this business."
The culprit was the oil that's pumped into the exhaust to create smoke during a performance: When the engine stopped, the oil ignited, engulfing his wife in flames, Franklin said.
'In Amanda's memory'
Such a switch would have prevented the fire that happened in 2011, and at Franklin's encouragement has been installed by other air show performers as well, he said.
Amanda, the wingwalker in the team's "Pirated Skies" routine, was badly burned following a crash landing after the plane's engine quit during a low altitude maneuver.
"That's one of those things that kind of continue to bother me call it closure or peace of mind or whatever," Franklin said. "Not being able to ever find out exactly what caused it just nags at me."
Asked if he ever considered whether the risk outweighed the gains, he said, "You think about it a lot."
shuts off the electrical system if the airframe undergoes a heavy jolt, such as that produced by a crash landing. The auto industry adopted the technology years ago, Franklin said, though aviation has been slow to follow suit.
In 2005, Franklin's father, Jimmy, was killed in a midair Fendi Peekaboo Essential collision at an air show in Saskatchewan, Canada. Amanda's father, Bobby Younkin, was in the other plane and also died. Franklin also lost his grandfather in an airplane crash.
lost his father before losing his sister Amanda Franklin, both during aerobatic performances.
"We call it the 'Amanda switch,'" Franklin said.
"You know the risk," Franklin said. "You accept that risk and do what you love. It's also the only thing I'm really good at."
In the Demon 1 biplane he's flying this year, Franklin has installed an impact switch that Fendi Bags Green
As for his return to Air Fiesta, Franklin said it's partly about peace of mind. It's also a way of saying 'thanks' for the support he got from Brownsville and South Texas after the accident, he said.
"There are backdoors and outs to every maneuver I fly," Younkin said. "I would say I probably have one of the safest acts in the air show industry with that airplane.
"They took really good care of us in Fendi Peekaboo Black
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