Paso Robles CA pilot dies in plane crash at Reno Air Races

A pilot from Paso Robles died Sunday in a fiery plane crash during the Reno Air Racing Association’s Stihl National Championship Air Races.

Aaron Hogue was a managing owner of the family business, Hogue Inc., which sells weapons accessories and knives.

“We can confirm that during the jet gold race on the third lap there was a fatal incident at outer pylon 5 today. There will be an investigation conducted by NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration),” the Reno Air Racing Association wrote on Twitter.

A video of the jet gold race on YouTube shows Hogue and another pilot flying neck and neck, but during the third lap, something goes awry, Hogue’s plane pulls off the course and crashes into the ground.

Hogue was flying an L-29 Super Defin during the crash, according to Flying Magazine. He was named the Reno Air Races’ Rookie of the Year in 2021.

“While we cannot change this tragedy, I would ask everybody to think, pray and honor Aaron for his passion for life and certainly his passion for air racing,” Fred Telling, CEO and chairman of the Reno Air Racing Association, said at a Monday news conference, according to the Reno Gazette Journal.

Telling said Hogue’s family was at the race and witnessed the crash, according to the Gazette Journal.

Hogue has flown planes since he was 16 and received his introductory flight license in 1987, according to his bio in Racing Jets Inc.

The jet that crashed was one of five that make up what Hogue’s company called the Hogue Air Force, according to its website.

“Hogue Air Force is a byproduct of the company’s decades of success, a team comprised of the four Hogue Inc. partners — Aaron Hogue, Patrick Hogue, Neil Hogue and Jim Bruhns,” the website says. “Each are private pilots and utilize the following range of aircraft for advertisement, management and travel.”

The converted Czechoslovakian-made aircraft, named Ballista, holds the record at the Reno Air Races for the fastest lap speed of over 540 mph, according to the Hogue Air Force site.

Hogue is the second San Luis Obispo County air racing pilot to die in a plane crash this month.

Veteran pilot Sherman Smoot died after his air racing plane crashed in Kern County during a tuneup flight for this year’s Reno Air Races.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

This story was originally published September 19, 2022 12:04 PM.

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Sara Kassabian is a reporter at The San Luis Obispo Tribune, covering the North County and health news. Sara is from the East Bay Area and studied journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder. She received a master’s degree in global health at UC San Francisco, and has previously worked in health, science and tech communications. Follow Sara on Twitter @sarakassabian.


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