(BCN) - Solano County pilots are paying tribute today to fellow aviator Jeffrey Sharman who died Wednesday afternoon when his single-engine, fixed-wing experimental plane crashed near Interstate Highway 505 near Winters.
The Solano Pilots Association website said Sharman, 68, of Vacaville, was a well-known and respected friend who was responsible for building many experimental aircraft, and he died doing what he loved, flying.
"Affectionately referred to as 'The Gnome' by his friends, Jeff was eager to help anyone with a repair, to give his view in national and world politics, or even to point you in the right direction if he didn't have the equipment to help," according to the website.
Vacaville dentist David Aronson said Sharman was flying an Avions Fairey Tipsy Nipper T-66 Wednesday.
A witness told the California Highway Patrol the wing came off and the plane spiraled to the ground shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.
"He had a great sense of humor and was an outstanding fellow," Aronson said. "We'll miss him terribly."
Sharman, owner of Sharman Enterprises, was instrumental in restoring, building, dismantling and shipping certified aircraft, Aronson said.
A native of South Africa, Sharman leaves his wife Sheila and son Billy. Aronson said he hasn't discussed plans with Sheila for a memorial.
The Sacramento RVators also paid tribute to Sharman on its website. Its 96 members are interested in Van's RV series of aircraft and Harmon/F1 Rockets.
"The entire aviation community will miss him," the group said on its website.