School Zone 80x80
Get into the News 8 School Zone

Making our schools better

News 8 Exclusive: Eyewitness credits pilot with saving lives before air show crash

Posted on: 9:58 pm, September 3, 2012, by

A couple traveling across the country says they’re still shaken up after what they saw while driving on I-80 through Iowa Labor Day weekend. They believe they were just 200 yards away from where a plane crashed during the Quad City Air Show.

Michael Winningham and his girlfriend Summer say the pilot, Glenn Smith, died while trying to save their lives.

Summer started her camera rolling, as she watched the aerial tricks; a surprise in the sky during their long trip across country in a semi.

“They’re in formation, they’re flying around, and we’re like, oh this is just awesome. We’re loving it,” said Michael Winningham. The trucker told News 8 story over the phone from Henderson, Colorado.

In the next moment, panic sets in when they realize that the plane piloted by Glenn Smith has veered off, and it is flying too low.

“He missed us by a good 110 to 150 feet,” Winningham said. “We looked up, and I could see Glen Smith in the cockpit. I could see what he was doing. He was trying to keep from hitting us. He was that close to us, and he went down off the freeway. We could feel everything as it happened.”

Summer can be heard in the video, screaming, “Oh my god!”. Michael pulls the truck over and calls 9-1-1.

“I don’t like the feeling of being powerless. I wanted to do something, but there was nothing we could do.”

They’re crediting the pilot with what they believe he did, purposefully steering the plane away from their truck and the others on I-80 to keep others safe, even as he was going down.

“I think he is an absolute hero. One of the best souls this world has known. To give your life to save others.”

The semi is now a tribute to Smith, with a decal on the back. It reads, “In Memory of Glenn Smith. September 1, 2012″.