Condolences and Contemplations
Condolences - certainly.
Admiration - for him doing what he loved to do.
Contemplation - human fallibility. I wonder if Mr. Appleton got into a "mode" of human behavior I've seen before, in which one's desires overrides one's prudence. Six years ago I saw an airshow fighter jet crash where this mode seemed to be what was happening.
0 - In late afternoon, jet pilot prepares to leave airshow for his home airport. Conditions CAVU.
1 - Jet is towed to base of runway.
2 - Engine (it was a single-engine jet) spools up, then spools down.
3 - Jet is towed to the side of the field.
4 - People (pilot, mechanics, others?) do things to the jet.
5 - Jet is towed back to takeoff position.
6 - Engine spools up, makes pooh-pooh-pooh sounds of unsteady flame.
7 - Pilot runs engine faster, then slower, faster, then slower. Occasional pooh-pooh sounds heard.
8 - Pilot leaves engine at steady speed. No more pooh-pooh sounds.
9 - Pilot runs engine up to (presumably) full power, begins take-off roll.
10 - Pilot has a looooong take-off roll, uses 95% of available runway (other jets used 60~75%), and has an extremely low angle-of-climb.
11 - Pilot clears trees by 50 feet.
12 - Pilot flies away from airport, out of sight.
13 - Pilot flies back towards airport, still just 50 feet over the trees.
14 - Pilot flies past airport.
15 - Jet, obscured by trees, disappears from view.
16 - Silence.
17 - Loud boom, orangey fireball, and dirty black smoke.
18 - Pilot killed, no other injuries (crashed into a house).
That jet pilot was well-qualified. He was the only one authorized at that time by the FAA to train other pilots on that jet (Hawker Hunter MK58).
Yet, he decided the jet was "good to go" when pre-take-off symptoms indicated it well might *not* have been.
Humans create systems which magnify human power; these systems also magnify the consequences of human failure.