Death of an aviator

One of the great mysteries (for now) of aviation is how a talented pilot who can do this, flies into the side of a mountain while merely piloting a plane to another destination.

Jim “Fang” Maroney, the former commander of the North Dakota Air National Guard, was while flying from his home in Wisconsin to an airshow in Florida. He was reported missing Sunday night and the wreckage was found in the Cherokee National Forest yesterday.

“He was very safety-conscious,” Darrol Schroeder, the Fargo AirSho co-chairman, said. “I mean, he gave the safety briefings at all of our recent air shows. … He was always so concerned about aviation safety.”

Although he retired from the North Dakota Guard in 2000, he was one of only four pilots who flew from Fargo to Washington, D.C., to patrol the skies near the Pentagon and the White House onSeptember 11, 2001, the Fargo Forum reports.

“Our mission all of a sudden now instead of to shoot down an enemy plane which we had trained our entire life for – all of us were trying to figure out what we will have to do if we have to shoot down an airliner,” he told WTMJ in Milwaukee in a 2011 interview. “It would be full of Americans and we realize the mission would be to stop collateral damage but on the other hand you know that airplanes would be full of Americans that was difficult to deal with”.

He later learned that the pilot of the jet that crashed into the Pentagon was a friend with whom he graduated from flight school.