An Oklahoma stunt pilot who died in a single-engine plane crash Wednesday was instrumental in bringing airshows to Claremore.
Guy “Doc” Baldwin of Tulsa, was performing at an air show in Tucumcari, N.M. Wednesday afternoon when he apparently lost control of his Extra 300L aircraft, according to Tucumcari Police Chief Larry Ham.
“Doc was largely responsible for Claremore having air shows — he was the one who first introduced the idea to us,” said Tim Fleetwood, vice-chairman, Rogers County Industrial Authority and former Claremore Regional Airport supervisor. “I met Doc about 10 years ago, and after a few years, he suggested to me that we (Claremore) should have one of our own air shows, so he took me to a show in Muskogee.”
Baldwin, who also was on the airshow committee with Fleetwood, served as controller, or “air boss” of the air shows, once they came to Claremore.
“Doc was a great pilot and a tremendous promoter of air shows,” Fleetwood said. “Whenever he came out to your airport, he’d bring 20 to 30 other friends, flying their own planes, with him — he had so many contacts in the aerobatic circles — if it wasn’t for him, the air traffic at (Claremore) airport would probably only be half of what it is today.”
Fleetwood, who had flown with Baldwin, said being in a plane while he was performing aerobatic stunts, “ruined roller coasters” for him.
“After the second time I went up with Doc doing aerial stunts, riding roller coasters were just boring,” he said. “I remember the first time he took me up, (former airport director) Dave McKenzie told Doc ‘Here’s a $100 bill — if you can make Tim sick, it’s all yours’.”
Fleetwood said he didn’t get sick — although Baldwin brought an air sickness bag along, just in case — but Baldwin’s prowess in the air did leave a memorable impression on him.
“Doc was thoroughly professional in the air — very cautious and relaxed — an outstanding pilot,” he said. “I had so much faith in his abilities as a pilot, I let him take up my then 10-year- old son — I was that confident in his abilities.”
Baldwin was a family physician and aviation medical examiner who logged more than 4,000 hours in 35 years of flying.
He had been making his first appearance at the Tucumcari show that was attended by about 800 people, including children who were released from school around noon and encouraged to attend.
Baldwin was the second pilot to perform during the air show.
The rest of the show was canceled.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the crash, which occurred on the first day of the 14th annual show.
“Doc’s death is certainly a huge loss for ... he’ll be missed by all of us,” Fleetwood said. “In my opinion, he was the ‘King of the Sky’ when it came to plane aerobatics. He was the best.”
Baldwin is survived by his wife, Feliz, 43; daughter, Brittny, 18; and son, Hunter, 17, all of Tulsa.
Associated Press provided some information for this story.