At 21, Airshow Pilot Makes Most of Second Chance at Life
The Boardwalk Aerobatic Airshow is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 16.
One of the highlights of Sunday's Boardwalk Aerobatic Airshow in Ocean City will be seeing a 21-year-old pilot doing loops and rolls, "tumbling across the sky" tail over nose and blowing a lot of smoke in the process.
But even more remarkable than the young pilot's display of skill is the fact that Jason Flood is alive to perform.
A year and a month ago, Flood was in an induced coma — with a heel fractured like an eggshell, a broken ankle, broken tibia, snapped femur, couple of broken ribs, lost left kidney, lost spleen, a burst fracture of the lumbar spine and, worst of all, a torn aorta.
Flood's plane crashed on Aug. 2, 2011, while he was attempting to pick up a banner for the fourth of five scheduled runs over Ocean City. A mechanical failure left his plane without power at 250 feet and it plummeted into dense brush near the landing strip in the Steelmanville section of Egg Harbor Township, where local planes pick up their banners.
Rescue crews reached Flood relatively quickly and after he was extracted from the wreckage of his plane, he was transported to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center and later Cooper University Medical Center.
But despite the fact that he was in an induced coma for three weeks, in rehab for another couple weeks and on an extended program of home therapy, Flood was back in the air by Oct. 2. He was carried in a beach blanket to be a passenger on a flight with a friend. By Nov. 6, he took command of dual controls on a flight with his brother. And by December 2011, he was flying solo.
"I wasn't scared, because I couldn't remember," Flood said of returning to the cockpit after the accident. "I just got right back on the horse."
Flood said the last thing he remembers from the day of the accident is making a handful of attempts at picking up the banner in windy conditions and talking to a friend on his airplane radio. He has no recollection of the crash and learned of its details only through others.
Flood's remarkable survival story allows him to pursue his lifelong dream of a career in aviation.
Flood is a native of Franklinville in Gloucester County and a graduate of Delsea Regional High School. His father is a pilot and operator of an airplane repair and restoration business.
He is attending Mercer County Community College on a STARS scholarship and hopes to move on to achieve a degree in aviation technology. He would like to continue to perform in air shows, become an instructor and have a career flying corporate jets.
In the meantime, Flood his happy to be the rookie on the air show circuit.
"There are not too many young guys," he said.
So if you're looking up at a red biplane performing stunts in Sunday's air show, know that you're seeing a man who's happy to have a second chance at life and a dream.