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Another Aviation Loss

7 November 2019

Joe Masessa MD, the driving force of Mohawk Airshows, died piloting his Grumman OV-1 Mohawk last Friday while practicing for that weekend’s air show in Stuart FL. NTSB will investigate, of course, to determine the cause of the crash. Experienced Mohawk pilots suspect a single engine failure quite naturally. The Mohawks are infamous for fatal torque rolls when an engine goes out at low air speeds—a great aircraft but warily termed a widow maker due to this trait.

Joe Masessa MD stands with his Grumman Mohawk—courtesy Mohawk Airshows

NTSB will find the cause or causes—of that I’m certain—and the report will be detailed in its explantations. The report will also note he had a special type certifications to fly not only the Grumman OV-1 Mohawk but the BAC 167 Strikemaster, as well, with 5000+ flight hours. What won’t be in the report is knowledge of who the man was. That belongs elsewhere and this post is a small start.

I learned of him only recently, a few months ago, and I didn’t make the time quickly enough to ask for an interview. He not only flew aerobatic routines with his Mohawk—a most gorgeous and greatly unsung aircraft—he flew it to honor those who remain MIA from the Vietnam War. The names of the 1636 remaining Vietnam War MIA were placed on the fuselage for air show visitors to view during static display periods. His YouTube presence shows him to be a Mohawk enthusiast, warm and engaging.

Joe Masessa MD piloting his Grumman Mohawk which he also transformed into an aerial memorial to the 1636 Vietnam MIA. Each of the 1636 were named on the aircraft—courtesy Mohawk Airshows

Another of aviation’s great losses.

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