PRESCOTT (AP) — A lawsuit filed following a 2006 airplane crash has led to the cancellation of this year's Prescott air show.
Organizers of the Arizona Skyfest said the show's nonprofit parent organization is named as a defendant in the suit filed by family members of some of those killed in the crash, which did not happen at the show but killed its executive director and operations director.
The decision was announced this week by Malcolm Barrett Jr., spokesman for the Prescott Air Fair Association that puts on the show.
The Oct. 18, 2006 crash killed five people aboard a twin-engine Piper Cheyenne that was trailing a vintage MiG-21 fighter jet to take photographs. The National Transportation Safety Board ruled late last year that pilot William "Billy" Friedman, 40, of Prescott, flew too close to the jet's exhaust and the tail of the plane was ripped off.
Friedman was the executive director of the air show. Also killed in the crash was Warren Parkes, 39, of Anthem, the operations director.
Retired Southwest Airlines pilots Donald Morris, 63, and Andy Boquet, 62, both of Prescott, were also on board, as was Joshua Vaughan, 37, of Prescott.
The September 2007 lawsuit over the crash pits the survivors of Vaughan, Morris and Boquet against a number of defendants, including Friedman's estate, the company that owned the plane he was flying, the pilot and owner of the MiG-21 and the Prescott Air Fair Association.
The Prescott Air Fair Association decided that its "hands were tied" this year with the prospect of the lawsuit, said Barrett, who serves as a board member for the association. The show relies on sponsorships for revenue and members worried that money could be in jeopardy.
Barrett said the fatal flight took place weeks after the September 2006 air show and had nothing to do with the organization that puts it on.
A lawyer for some of the family members suing expressed surprise that the association had opted to cancel its 2008 event.
Prescott attorney Mark Drutz represents the Morris family and said the plaintiffs were still "in the process of deciding" whether to keep the association in the lawsuit. He pointed out that the plaintiffs' attorneys had recently received word from an air fair attorney that the Skyfest had no assets and no insurance.