Shockwave Jet Truck crashes at Air Show, driver killed

Chris Darnell, 40, was killed in the crash according to the Battle Creek Michigan Police; Shockwave Jet Truck company is based in Springfield, Mo.
Truck and plane
Shockwave Jet Truck minutes before fatal crash. Courtesy Elizabeth Matthews, Eaton Rapids, Michigan.

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — The Battle Creek Police Dept report a “major incident” occurred Saturday afternoon at the Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival at Battle Creek Executive Airport.

At about 1:10 this afternoon, during the pyrotechnic portion of the show, an accident happened that has resulted in a death, Chris Darnell, 40.  Darnell drives the SHOCKWAVE Jet Truck during the air show; it races over 300 mph down the runway at the Battle Creek Executive Airport, where Field of Flight activities take place.” — BCPD

According to bio information Darnell has been involved in motorsports his entire life.

Shockwave has roots in the Joplin-Area and currently Shockwave Jet Truck is based in nearby Springfield, Mo. in Greene County.

Darnell’s father, Neal Darnell is a native of Picher, Okla. released a statement Saturday evening:

During today’s SHOCKWAVE Jet Truck performance at the Battle Creek Field of Flight Airshow an accident occurred as a result of a mechanical failure on the Jet Truck. Regretfully Chris Darnell, the driver and my youngest son, passed away from his injuries at approximately 1:01 pm.  No one else was involved.  We will provide Funeral Arrangements sometime this week. We are so sad.  Just one month ago Chris turned 40.  He was so well loved by everyone who knew him. Chris so loved the Air Show business. He was ‘Living the Dream’ as he said.”

Elizabeth Matthews photo

Photo of trailer door. Courtesy Elizabeth Matthews.

BCPD state the Battle Creek Fire Department, Battle Creek Police Department, and Federal Aviation Administration were on scene investigating.

Summit Motorsports in a release of information, “In addition to being a son, brother, husband and father, Chris was a popular entertainer. His passion for putting on the best show possible for the fans, and for engaging with them, was clear. Summit Motorsports offers it sincere condolences to Chris’ family and team.”

Photo of man

Chris Darnell, Shockwave Jet Truck driver, courtesy Summit Motorsports.

We chatted with Elizabeth Matthews of Eaton Rapids, Michigan who witnessed the crash as a spectator. She said she was stunned.

“It happened so quick and just not something you would expect.”

She said at the first they delayed the show, “but a few hours later they announced the cancelation for respect and because they were still investigating the crash.”

As of now attendees to the air show will be able to return tomorrow to see remaining attractions.

We anticipate more information to be release me this evening from authorities.


Pre-planned pyrotechnic
explosion on runway at air show.

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