Condolences to all concerned.
Pilot in 1998 Boeing Field power-line mishap dies in crash
Tuesday, June 12, 2001
By CHRIS McGANN
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
Jerry "Mike" Warren knew better than most pilots just how risky flying could be.
The Silverdale pilot gained international attention three years ago when a mishap left him dangling in his single-engine Cessna from a high-voltage transmission line over Boeing Field. When he escaped unharmed, he said, "Somebody's looking after me."
Sunday, the dangers of flying caught up with Warren, 50, and another man; they were killed when a Soviet-made one-engine propeller plane corkscrewed into a field in Whatcom County.
Authorities hadn't officially released the identify of the man killed with Warren, but friends said he was Alexander Zuyev, 40. Zuyev also had a brush with fame and danger. He cheated the former Soviet Union out of a MiG 29 that he used to escape to Turkey in 1989.
From Warren's home yesterday, Jim Dykes, a longtime friend, described Warren as a man who loved to fly and wasn't afraid to pursue his passion. Dykes said Warren regularly flew back and forth from Boeing, where he worked as a crane operator.
"He flew in all kinds of adverse weather; he was a heck of a pilot," he said.
Warren had a car, but used his plane more.
"His life was flying," Dykes said. "When a close friend was killed in a plane accident, Mike said: 'Well, he died doing what he likes to do.' I would think he'd say the same thing about his own death; there are unforeseen hazards. If it takes us, well, you die doing what you like to do. He'd never quit flying."
In April 1998, Warren made the news across the globe when the Cessna 150L he was flying was snared by a high-voltage power line west of Boeing Field.
Warren spent the morning 60 feet above the ground hanging upside down in his seat belt while the firefighters sent to rescue him made certain they didn't drop him on his head.
As sparks lighted up the sky, the aircraft hung for a moment, tipped forward, then toppled to the left as the power line caught its right wheel -- and held. As the plane twisted in the breeze, firefighters in a cherry picker stabilized the plane and then carefully plucked Warren from the aircraft to safety.
Dykes said even while Warren was hanging over Boeing Field, where he could easily have died, he was able to maintain his dry sense of humor.
When the air-traffic controller asked whether he needed anything, Warren responded: "Not unless you got a long stepladder," Dykes said. Warren made the 1999 Guinness Book of World Records for great escapes holding the record for "lowest airplane rescue."
Zuyev, too, was known for daring exploits. On May 17, 1989, Zuyev escaped from the former Soviet Union in a MiG and landed it in Turkey. He moved to the United States shortly after that.
Will Aulen knew Warren and Zuyev. Aulen said the two met in the early 1990s. Zuyev wrote "Fulcrum," an account of his escape from the former Soviet Union.
Zuyev had just sold his house in Florida and moved to Seattle.
He was staying with Warren, Aulen said.
Warren's 14-year-old-son, Jason, was flying in a YAK-18 in the two-plane group Sunday.
"Jason called me and said, 'Dad's dead,'" Dykes said.
"I don't know if they were doing a maneuver," Dykes said of the crash. "They passed each other, and Jason said it looked like he started to go into a spiral and began making a recovery, but was so low it just slammed into the deck."
Earlier, the plane was traveling with four or five other planes from Point Roberts, about 30 miles north of Bellingham, to Paine Field in Everett, said Whatcom County sheriff's deputies.
It crashed about 12:20 p.m. in an open field several miles south of Birch Bay near the BP Refinery.
The plane had gotten ahead of the other aircraft and was contacted by radio to turn back and rejoin them.
Warren had several planes, a Cessna 152, a Bonanza four-seater, LanceAir high-performance home-builts and the YAK-18.
The YAK-52, designed and built as a military trainer in the former Soviet Union, is now used for sport flying, aerobatic performances and pilot competitions.