HUFFINGTON POST
09/18/2011 07:52 pm ET Updated Nov 18, 2011

Former Air Canada Pilot, George Hewitt, Wife, Wendy Killed In Reno Air Show Crash

RENO, Nev. - A former Air Canada pilot and his wife were among nine people killed in Nevada after a 1940s-era plane crashed during an air show.

George Hewitt, 60, and his wife Wendy, 57, were sitting with a group of vintage military plane owners when a P-51 Mustang crashed near a grandstand at the Reno air show Friday, killing them instantly.

The couple reportedly had moved recently from Washington to Fort Mohave, Ariz., after George Hewitt retired.

He was born in Winnipeg and flew as a pilot with Air Canada for about 40 years.

The Seattle Times reported George Hewitt owned a small post-Second World War plane originally built by the same company that made the P-51 Mustang.

Dave Desmon, an executive officer with Cascade Warbirds _ a non-profit group whose members own and fly a wide range of ex-military aircraft, told KIRO-TV he was talking to the Hewitts moments before the plane narrowly missed the packed grandstand and nose-dived into a section of VIP box seats.

"It rolled to the right, back over the top of the crowd, then right down towards us," said Desmon.

"I was pretty much looking at the spinner of an airplane coming at me at 500 mph (800 km/h) and trying to decide which way it was moving so we could move the opposite direction."

The Hewitts lived in Washington state before moving to Fort Mohave, Ariz., more than a year ago when Hewitt retired as a Boeing 777 captain with Air Canada, the Seattle Times reported.

His brother said he remained an enthusiastic pilot upon retirement. He and his wife lived in a "fly-in" community, where residents had airplane hangars near their homes, Wayne Hewitt told the Times.

The Hewitts reportedly had four children, all living in British Columbia.

Romi Singh grew up with George Hewitt in Winnipeg and flew with him for Air Canada. He told the Times the two of them hung around flying clubs and learned to fly in the same area.

Singh recalled how Hewitt volunteered to help when Singh co-ordinated a round-the world flight by two young men to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.

"He was very well liked," said Singh, president of Aviation Research Corp. who learned of the news while travelling in London. "This is tragic."

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