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A Jet Truck Cost the Life of a Man During an Air Show

By: Michael Chuang

On Saturday, the driver of a truck propelled by three jet engines crashed during an air show in Michigan.

The driver was named Chris Darnell, and he had run the air show for many years. Barabara Haluszka, the executive director of the festival said, “Chris had a crash and the jet truck flipped over... unfortunately, he did not live.”

According to Darnell’s father, Neal Darnell, he claimed the accident was caused by a mechanical failure on the jet truck.

The air show involved the jet truck and a set of two airplanes. Bill Stein piloted a Zivko Edge 540 and Rob Holland piloted an MXS-RH. The show featured a scene where Mr. Darnell drove his truck through flames. Haluszka claimed, “Despite what it looks like in many of the videos, the fireball was pyrotechnics and Darnell did not drive through the flames.” She adds, “The pyro is on the grass. the jet truck is running on the runway. From the crowd’s side, it looks like he’s driving straight through the pyro. But he is not.”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is not investigating this accident because the accident involved a truck, not an airplane. The Battle Creek Police Department (BCPD), which is investigating the accident, confirmed the death of Darnell, but no other information was provided.

The vehicle is custom-built and owned by Darnell Racing Enterprises. The truck is designed to reach top speeds of 350 mph. The three jet engines provide around 21,000 pounds of thrust. Ryan Traver, a festival board member, stated, “It’s just unreal to be in a vehicle with a jet engine and to be propelled from zero to 300 [mph] that quickly. It’s not like it’s a car at a racetrack, where you’re slowly getting up to top speed. It’s zero to top speed.”

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