Battle Creek Police have confirmed that the victim in Saturday’s fiery Shockwave Jet Truck crash at the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival was driver Chris Darnell, 40.
Darnell was performing at the festival about 1:10 pm, driving his jet truck in excess of 300 mph down a runway at Battle Creek Executive Airport when a mechanical failure caused him to crash, his father Neal Darnell wrote in a Facebook post Saturday night.
“We are so sad. Just one month ago Chris turned 40. He was so well loved by everyone who knew him,” Neal Darnell wrote. “Chris so loved the air show business. He was ‘living the dream’ as he said.”
Two stunt planes were flying above Chris Darnell at the time of the crash. They were not involved in the incident.
Police did not provide additional information about Darnell’s death. Battle Creek Fire, Battle Creek Police and Federal Aviation Administration officials continue to investigate the crash.
Saturday’s air show was canceled following the incident, while all other Field of Flight activities remained on schedule.
The air show was scheduled to resume today.
The Shockwave Jet Truck is part of the Darnell Racing Enterprise’s show team, which includes the Aftershock Jet Fire truck and the Flash Fire Jet Truck. The team is based in Springfield, Missouri.
According to the team’s website, the Shockwave jet truck features three Pratt & Whitney J34-38 jet engines originally used in US Navy T2 Buckeyes. The engines produce 36,000 horsepower and provide 21,000 pounds of thrust, allowing the truck to reach speeds of more than 350 mph.
The team’s three trucks have appeared at shows across the US
Chris Darnell had been involved in motorsports “his entire life,” competing in beyond a variety of racing formats “from drag racing to circle track and,” according to a biography on the team’s website.
“He has literally done it all,” the biography reads.
In addition to drag racing, Darnell also owned the truck accessory company 4 Wheel Customs. He had been sharing the driving duties with his father Neal in both the Flash Fire and Shockwave jet trucks.
Contact reporter Greyson Steele at email@example.com or 269-501-5661. Follow him on Twitter: G_SteeleBC