USAF Loses a Cadet and Elite Pilot Retiree in Fiery Plane Crash

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USAF Loses a Cadet and Elite Pilot Retiree in Fiery Plane Crash

Three people were killed on New Years Eve when two small planes collided near McKinney, Texas. One was businessman Robert Navar, of Frisco, Texas, and the other two were  USAF cadet Tim Barber, and his father, Retired USAF Lt. Col. Greg “Spanky” Barber. An investigation is underway to determine the cause.

Just before 5:30 p.m. on Dec 31, the two small aircraft  collided in mid air close to the Aero Country Airport in Collin County. The planes crashed into the business area of McKinney, Texas – one broke apart onto the street, and one smashed into a storage facility. There were no survivors.

Photo by Rodney Livermore, local resident

“He was on takeoff making his first turn when the other plane clipped his tail. Once the tail came off, there was no flying and he crashed almost immediately onto the roadway. The other plane crashed a few seconds later into a storage facility.” Keith Clifton, family spokesman, former Commander, and business partner of Greg Barber

The airport does not have an air traffic tower. According to the FAA, pilots are required to announce takeoffs and landings via radio. NTSB and FAA investigators are looking into that aspect of this tragic accident. The FAA spokesperson, Lynn Lunsford advised that it appeared neither plane had communicated and were flying under visual rules. Full details should be released next week.

Greg Barber, left, and son Tim , right – photo via GoFundMe page

The USAF veteran and his son

Lt.Col. Greg Barber (Ret), 55, was a career Air Force veteran and accomplished pilot. His son Tim, 18, a freshman cadet at the USAF Academy, was following in his dad’s footsteps.

According to the Gazette,

“He was an elite pilot who had been assigned to fly the B-52, the SR-71 Blackbird before the program was canceled and the U-2,” Clifton said.

Greg Barber had been assigned to Air Force bases in Texas, Washington, California and Germany as well as a military post in Langley, Va., before retiring after a more than 20-year career as a pilot, flight instructor and several other roles, Clifton said. He joined Clifton as an investor and founder of Tenant Tracker, a Texas company that does background checks on potential apartment tenants, teachers and others, and worked for the company for 10 years as vice president.

“He was my best friend,” Clifton said. “His family is more than a cornerstone; they are the glue that pulls a community together. I met so many people because of him. Everybody knows them for their friendship, loyalty and love of the community and country. We need to continue the mission they were on.”

The loss of family members and friends at the holidays is devastating. Greg and Tim are survived by wife and mom, Mandy Barber, and children Franklin, Ben, and Becca. Their GoFundMe page is at this link.

“This is a tragedy for the Barbers and for those of us in their Air Force family. Our thoughts are with them as well as with their friends and loved ones. This is profoundly sad news for all of us at the Air Force Academy. We stand ready to support Cadet Barber’s family and also have resources at the ready to help cadets and staff to weather our loss.” Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson

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Faye Higbee
Faye Higbee
I'm a published author of 4 books, numerous short stories, blogs and editorials. I've been working at Uncle Sam's since 2013. I have two degrees in Criminal Justice and worked for over 31 years at a local police department. I have been a patriotic American since I was a child.

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