The German Luftwaffe suffered another devastating defeat today when a plane bearing its World War II-era insignia crash-landed on the center divider of U.S. 101 in California on Tuesday, promptly going up in an inferno like its historical predecessors.
Per CBS Sacramento, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said the pilot was safely extracted from the wreck before flames consumed much of the aircraft, though it’s unclear whether he needed assistance to do so. (KTLA reported the pilot, whom the California Highway Patrol described as a commercial airline pilot with 30 years of experience, escaped with only singes to his hair.) No other injuries or collisions with vehicles were reported.
The plane in question does not appear to actually be an antique Reich original, despite it being clearly marked with the Balkenkreuz, an Iron Cross-like symbol used on Nazi planes and armored vehicles before and during World War II. CBS reported it was a variant of a North American Aviation T-6 Texan, a model developed in 1936 and used for decades afterwards, mocked up by a nonprofit called the Condor Squadron to look like a German fighter for mock dogfights and parades:
No vehicles on the ground were involved in the afternoon crash that snarled traffic about 30 miles west of downtown Los Angeles.
The North American AT-6 belonged to the Condor Squadron, a group that performs mock dogfights for air shows and flies in formation over parades, memorial services and events commemorating veterans, said president Chris Rushing.
“The pilot did a great job getting it down and not hitting any cars,” he said... The plane was painted with World War II-era German air force markings, Rushing said.
So, it wasn’t a Nazi plane—it was Nazi plane cosplay. While this is an important distinction for historical re-enactors who wear the costumes of Adolf Hitler’s Wehrmacht (or the Imperial Japanese Army, etc.) for festivals and mock wargames, it may not be such an important distinction for people worried about the resurgence of the neo-fascist and white supremacist movement and its associated thuggery during Donald Trump’s presidency. You know, the one that keeps on having its ties with racist hate groups quite eager to start a new era of goose-stepping exposed.
This particular plane might have been part of a squadron that presumably shows Nazi planes losing dogfights to Allied ones. But just last year, another plane mocked up to appear as a Nazi-built Messerschmitt BF 109 with a swastika on the tail made an emergency landing on a highway in Georgia. The pilot in that incident, Fred Meyer, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the Nazi insignia was “just for fun” and “A lot of people like to paint these planes up like old war birds.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration have sent investigators to the scene to investigate the crash on Tuesday.
“The pilot obviously had a catastrophic failure and had to put it down on the 101,” Rushing told the paper. “Thank God he’s OK and no one got hurt on the ground.”