(October 31, 2017) – Sky Combat Aces, the company that operated the plane involved in the deaths of Garrett Engler and Peter Gillcrist on October 21st, has a history of problems and accidents, according to a local news source.
The company used to operate under the name Vegas Extreme Adventures. Based out of Henderson, they also have an office at Gillespie Field. It was the Gillespie Field location that launched the EXTRA EA- 300 plane that crashed on October 21st near the El Capitan Reservoir in California, killing passenger Garrett Engler and pilot Peter Gillcrist. Surprisingly, this is not the first fatal accident for the company.
In April of 2016, Steve Peterson from Rohnert Park, his twin brother Chris Peterson, and 10 other friends traveled to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. Nine people from their party booked packages with Sky Combat Ace, something they had planned for months. Once arriving, the group realized heavy thunderstorms were present in the area. Most of the group decided not to go due to the weather, but Steve and two of the others found out that the $8,000 they had already prepaid was non-refundable. They decided to go to avoid forfeiting the money.
Steve Peterson went up in an EXTRA EA-300 along with pilot Ben Soyars on April 30th. Sadly, neither returned from the flight. Their plane crashed near Jean, Nevada, killing both 32 year old Steve Peterson, and 37 year old pilot Ben Soyars.
The particular plane involved in the April 2016 accident had been in trouble with the FAA before. In 2015, a pilot for Sky Combat Ace named Richard Boissonneault performed a dangerous, low flying maneuver above the Colorado River. The maneuver was dangerous enough to attract the attention of the Bureau of Reclamation Police at the Hoover Dam, who alerted the FAA. The FAA had called for a suspension of Boissonneault’s license, but it is unknown if action was taken against him.
October’s recent fatal accident and the fatalities of 2016 were not the first accidents reported related to Sky Combat Aces. In 2014 a Sky Combat Ace plane made an emergency landing at McCarran International Airport after a rudder cable failed. The very next month, an aircraft landed on a street near the airport after the plane sustained a partial loss of engine power. And in 2011, Sky Combat Ace’s waiver to carry passengers while flying in formation was suspended after it was discovered that the company had been performing formation maneuvers within 500 feet of ground level, a dangerously low level. Shortly after, the waiver was revoked entirely after a second incident. Sky Combat Ace was also sued by a mechanic who was partially run over by a Sky Combat Ace plane at the Henderson airport.
“The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Lexton Law are with the family and friends of Garrett Engler and Peter Gillchrist after this terrible accident. We hope the families are able to find some peace after this tragedy,” said the attorneys for Lexton Law. Lexton Law is an expert in the field of aviation crashes, and has recently won an 8 figure settlement for the families of victims involved in a small plane crash. One of the attorneys has flown in an air combat experience before in Nevada.