The pilot who was killed in a plane crash at Porterville Municipal Airport on Monday has been identified.
Lt. Col. Billy “Taz” Sullivan of the 144th Fighter Wing based at the California Air National Guard in Fresno was killed in the crash.
“The 144th Fighter Wing family is deeply saddened at the sudden loss of one of our own,” the 144th Fighter Wing posted on its Facebook page. “On June 7, Lt Col Billy “Taz” Sullivan suffered a fatal accident while flying his personal aircraft.
“Billy was a force multiplier for all who knew him and was truly larger than life. His death will impact many people because he had a mission to help and connect with everyone he knew. He had a thirst for life and wanted to share his love of aviation and passion for adventure with anyone and everyone he encountered.”
Sullivan was a 2006 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and had more than 1,500 hours in the Mighty F-15 Eagle. He served as an instructor pilot and evaluator and was recently appointed as Director of Operations for the 194th Fighter Squadron.
“He was at the pinnacle of his Air Force and aviation career and truly the future of the 144th Fighter Wing,” the 144th Fighter Wing also posted on Facebook. “Our condolences and sympathies go out to his wife, Diane, and his family and friends.”
Sullivan was the only person on board on the plane. The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane crashed at about 2:20 p.m shortly after take off. Sullivan was trying to return to the airport when the crash happened, the FAA stated.
The plane was an RV-6A, single-engine, homebuilt plane sold in kit form by Van's Aircraft. The plane caught fire when it crashed near the end of the runway at the airport. Porterville Fire Department Firefighters put out the flames.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.