Chris Darnell Jet Truck driver dies in mechanical error during Battle Creek air show accident in Michigan. Was living the dream.
Attracted to the thrill and danger and adrenaline… at almost any cost.
Chris Darnell, 40, was killed after his jet truck was engulfed in flames when he released his parachute while racing planes going 300mphs (482kmh) at the Battle Creek Air Show.
Shockwave jet truck was racing two planes that were going 300 mph just on 1pm, Saturday. Reports told of the accident occurring after Darnell deployed his parachute, only for the vehicle to be engulfed in flames followed by a large plume of black smoke.
‘[The driver] was doing his show and going down the runway,’ Suze Gusching, media relations for Field of Flight told the Battle Creek Enquirer. ‘He passed by the explosion, and his truck had exploded.’
There Are Many Ways To Die but why choose the unforgiving way? Go to F1!
Chris Darnell died after his Shockwave jet truck blew up & became engulfed in flames.
The truck was racing two airplanes that were going 300mph (482kmh) at the Battle Creek Air Show in Michigan on Saturday.. pic.twitter.com/uYYCyzU0Zm
— ™️®️ Ndung’u Wa Kahugu (@wa_kahugu) July 3, 2022
Video of the incident (see above) shows a large explosion happening right before the truck barrelled into it. As the vehicle came flying out of the other side, it significantly slowed and was covered in thick smoke.
Spectators can be heard going ‘ohh’ as they realized what had transpired with an announcer asking attendees to ‘stay back’ while emergency teams assisted the scene.
Two prop planes were performing aerial tricks and flying low above the truck as it raced down a runway at the Battle Creek Executive Airport when the accident happened.
In a post on the Jet Truck Facebook page, Darnell’s father, Neal Darnell, blamed mechanical failure for the accident.
‘We are so sad,’ Darnell said in the post. ‘Just one month ago Chris turned 40. He was so well loved by everyone who knew him. Chris so loved the Air Show business. He was ‘Living the Dream’ as he said.’
The truck was created by the late Les Shockley, said to be the pioneer of jet trucks, and operated by the Darnell’s since 2012, according to the International Council of Air Shows.
A Shockwave truck features three Pratt & Whitney J34-38 jet engines, originally used by the US Navy’s T2 Buckeys planes, and is equipped with 36,000 horsepower and 21,000 pounds of thrust.
The airshow community lost a legend today. Chris Darnell and the shockwave jet truck provided endless entertainment and excitement every time he’d visit the homecoming Airshow at the end of the year. You’ll be forever remembered Chris.
📸2019 Blue Angels Homecoming pic.twitter.com/o4RmLfrMTi
— Matt_Brost (@mbrostphotos) July 2, 2022
Crowd favorite – but at what cost?
The truck can reportedly reach up to more than 350mph, according to the Battle Creek Enquirer.
The Darnell Racing Enterprise, which owns the truck, also owns the Aftershock Jet Fire truck and the Flash Fire Jet truck.
The airshow was scheduled to take place from June 30 to July 4, but is currently postponed due to the accident. The event, which took place at the airport, was largely to celebrate the Air Force’s 75th Anniversary.
The Battle Creek Fire and Police Departments and the Federal Aviation Administration continue to investigate.