The pilot of that Luscombe was my good friend. I'd known him 19 years and had flown that Luscombe with him. We took a T-38 to Oshkosh a few years back. Aviation... all facets... was his passion. You always hear about guys that will do anything for you; guys that are always the bright spot in your day; guys with an eternally optimistic attitude. Spanky really was that guy. He was an amazing pilot. And an even better father and person. He always cared about his fellow man. He was so involved with his family and community.
After being a T-38 FAIP, a tour in the B-52, and a staff tour, Spanky applied for the SR-71 in 1997: they were hiring one... only one... pilot that year, from the hundreds of applicants. Spanky beat out everyone and was hired. He showed up at Edwards to start training, but four days later, Pres Clinton killed the SR program. Three days later, Spanky is at Beale to fly the U-2 interview flights. Five days later, he is hired to the U-2 Program and has to get a SecAF waiver for two PCS' in 2 weeks. He became my neighbor on base. When I first met him, I knew he was about 35, but he looked barely 21. I gave him his T-38 checkride on 23 Dec 1997. Friends ever since. He was the deployed U-2 squadron commander in Saudi before the war kicked off in 2003. I replaced him at the end of his tour.
He elected not to go the professional pilot route after retirement, but was always super active in GA, EAA, Boy Scouts, and teaching his kids about aviation. The fact that Tim perished too is just crushing.
So very tragic. He was loved by all that ever met him.
God bless you, Spanky.