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Who was Wyatt Fuller?

16 April 2012

Who was Wyatt Fuller?

35º 44′ 30″ N / 81º 23′ 22″ W

There is an empty slot at the Hickory Aviation Museum sized for a single seat sized aircraft. It is located under the left wing of the FedEx Fokker F27 Friendship and on the starboard side of the Marine Air Corps Northrop F-5 aggressor aircraft. In the excitement of seeing the numerous aircraft exhibited for up close and personal inspection it is easy to dismiss the empty slot — after all the aircraft could be on a flight or away to an airshow.

Well, that is how it started. Tragically, the aircraft departed that slot but was destroyed in a high speed fiery crash during a take off attempt on 24 July 2006 at that same airport. The crash was fatal, killing owner and pilot Wyatt Fuller who was likely perished as a result of the end of runway impact in his F-86 Sabre known as N86FS. One can only be thankful for small favors in dreadful circumstances such as this one.

The empty slot is metaphorical as Mr. Fuller was well liked in the aviation community — simple internet searches yield a plethora of testimonials to him — and left a large void behind in that community. The Experimental Aircraft Association warbird folks miss him as well as his airshow demonstrations. Poignantly, he is missed at the Hickory Aviation Museum, as well. They do not wear their hearts on a sleeve there but they have a respectfully simple and elegant memorial to him all the same. If one looks on the grass just off the ramp where N86FS used to stay, when at home, a drop tank and a cross will be seen. The drop tank is from the right wing of N86FS (the left wing drop tank was destroyed in the crash) and it lies there, fractured with a cross signifying Wyatt Fuller and his aircraft number — N86FS. A remarkable memorial to a memorable man.

A sublimely empty slot at the Hickory Aviation Museum — photo by Joseph May

The right wing drop tank of N86FS and Wyatt Fuller memorial cross — photo by Joseph May

Wyatt Fuller's poignant memorial at the Hickory Aviation Museum — photo by Joseph May

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. shortfinals permalink
    16 April 2012 10:08

    A simple, yet moving display…thank you for covering this.

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      16 April 2012 10:53

      Sublime, as well.

  2. Rick Labuda permalink
    22 November 2015 22:19

    As Sales Manager at Tilley HD, Wyatt and I spoke quite often. Met with him the week before the accident at his hanger with his prized jet in three sections getting ready to win the National Championship. Miss him. Thank you for the tribute.

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