Friends, family and aerobatic plane teammates are mourning the death of Dr. Reinaldo Walter Beyer, a Del Mar resident who died Saturday after ejecting from his experimental craft in Borrego Springs.
According to the county Medical Examiner’s Office, Beyer, 58, was practicing maneuvers when he had some form of mechanical failure.
“The plane spiraled out-of-control and [Beyer] ejected from the plane; however, his parachute did not deploy completely because of low altitude,” the office said.
A month ago, Beyer took 33rd in the 15th FAI World Advanced Aerobatic Championships in Nyíregyháza, Hungary, as part of an American team that took third place.
Witnesses near the crash site in the 1800 block of Palm Canyon Drive called 911 for help, said the county.
“Deputies responded to the location along with fire personnel,” said a report. “Upon arrival, paramedics found the decedent pulseless and apneic with obvious blunt force trauma. Advanced cardiac life support was initiated but to no avail and death was pronounced via radio with a local hospital.”
According to U-T San Diego, Beyer was a longtime San Diego County cardiologist.
“It is with profound sadness we note the sudden passing of longtime Sharp Rees-Stealy cardiologist Reinaldo Beyer,” Dr. Donald Balfour III, president and medical director of Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group, was quoted as saying. “Our hearts go out to his wife and fellow SRS cardiologists.”
Beyer was piloting a home-built MXS aerobatic plane at the Borrego Valley Airport, when he began having trouble with the plane about 12:30 p.m., U-T San Diego reported.
According to his aerobatic team, Beyer has served as team captain and won the 2003 Sportsman California Series Championship, 2005 Intermediate California Series Championship and 2005 Soucy Award and was a national judge in the sport.
“The 2012 USA Advanced Aerobatic team is deeply saddened by the loss of our teammate and friend,” said a note posted Sunday on its website. ‘We will always remember our time with Reinaldo, and express our sympathies for his family and others in the aerobatic community.”
Beyer’s life in the sky began at age 3 in his uncle’s Piper TriPacer, according to a biography.
“Just as many kids have done, he built, flew (and crashed) many airplane models during his childhood. He still enjoys flying RC airplane and gliders,” the biography said, adding:
He started flying gliders at age 16 in his native Chile. He got introduced to aerobatics in gliders, flying the Blanik L-13 and Pilatus B-4 as a teenager. He initially obtained his power-airplane rating mostly to be able to tow gliders.
He competed in soaring contests in higher performance sailplanes and had some memorable flights for his silver, gold and diamond soaring badges. He acquired experience as glider instructor and tow pilot for several years.
Time and financial constraints during medical training forced a hiatus in flying for a very long time. He engaged in competitive small sailboat racing for several years. His wife, knowing how important flying was for him, presented him with the gift of a pilot refresher course. After having an established medical career as an Interventional Cardiologist in San Diego the couple bought a Mooney 201 and later a Mooney Bravo.
His enjoyment of aerobatics prompted him to take an aerobatic course as a flight review. He started competing in a Decathlon, which led to him later buying a Pitts S2C in which he competed in Sportsman and Intermediate categories. An Extra 300L met his demands for the advanced category. He is based at Montgomery Field in San Diego, California.
The plane sustained substantial damage, Allen Kenitzer, spokesman for the FAA, said Saturday. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating, Kenitzer said. The NTSB is the lead investigative agency.
A NTSB investigator usually posts a basic preliminary report on the agency's website, ntsb.gov, within a week or two of the crash. But it typically takes the NTSB months to come up with a probable cause for accidents, Kenitzer said.
According to the FAA registry, the single-engine plane was owned by Edward R. Moore of San Diego.
A woman told U-T San Diego she was the owner's wife said Beyer was a family friend.
—City News Service contributed to this report.