ELKO – A vintage military aircraft that has competed at the Reno Air Races veered off the runway at Elko Regional Airport Wednesday morning and crashed into a fence.
The unusual plane was seen flying over Elko before the crash, which occurred around 10:15 a.m. under partly cloudy skies and calm weather conditions, with the temperature just below freezing.
Airport Manager Jim Foster said the lone occupant, pilot Robert McCormack, was taken to Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital as a precaution, after complaining of lower back pain.
The aircraft appeared to be fully intact, although its nose was pressed into the chain link fence surrounding the runway.
Foster said he did not know why the plane veered off the runway, but the pilot reported having a “brake problem.” He was on his way to Utah and probably stopped in Elko for gas, Foster added.
The Soko G-2 Galeb is described as a two-seat jet trainer with a Rolls Royce engine. It was manufactured from the mid 1960s through the mid 1980s and used by the military in Yugoslavia and Libya, according to www.militaryfactory.com.
The plane has flown in competition under the name Wildest Dreams.
An article on the Warbirds of Delaware website describes how McCormack decided to “go for the gold” at the 2017 National Championship Air Races in Reno:
“Under severe time constraints, Bob raced to find and purchase one of the four Sokos remaining in the country, get his Soko type rating, and get the plane up and running for the first time in over ten years.”
He won the bronze and was bumped up to the gold race, but was disqualified, the group reported.