Cornelius pilot dies in air show crash
by Staff Writer
CORNELIUS – A Cornelius pilot who died at a West Virginia air show last week spent a lifetime behind the stick and performed at air shows as a way to give back to the community, his son said.
John “Jack” Mangan, 54, a U.S. Air Force veteran, died Saturday, Sept. 17, after his plane crashed into a runway in Martinsburg, W.Va., during the Thunder over the Blue Ridge air show. He was taking part in a six-plane stunt formation in his 1950s-era T-28 jet.
Officials said the cause of the crash is unclear, as there were no signs of distress before the jet hit the runway.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating and won’t issue a final report for 12 months, according to Peter Knudson, an agency spokesman.
Mangan is survived by his wife of 31 years, three children and a grandchild.
“He loved being in the sky,” his son, Sean Mangan, who lives in Cornelius, said. “He was born wanting to be a pilot and worked his entire life to get there.”
Known as Jack among friends and Flash by his fellow pilots, Mangan was a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and spent 13 years flying F-15 and F-4 fighter jets. He served as an instructor and mission commander during Operation Desert Storm and earned three Meritorious Service Medals and the Tactical Command’s Fighter Pilot of the Year award in 1984, according to Rick Rountree, a spokesman for Restaurant Management Group.
“My dad was a very, very safe pilot,” said his daughter Pam Mangan. “That was the most important thing to him while flying.”
After leaving the Air Force, Mangan stepped into the world of business, serving as president of Restaurant Management Group since its creation in 2000. The Tennessee-based company owns and operates 81 Little Caesar’s Pizza and Hardee’s restaurants across the Southeast.
“He was a natural-born leader,” Rountree said. “He was well-liked and well-respected across all levels of life. He was also one of the finest businessmen I’ve ever met.”
The company posted condolences on its website, www.rmgrestaurants.com.
“Jack was a beloved leader in our company, and his untimely passing is a blow to us all,” a statement on the website read.
During his time with the company, Mangan still kept his sights skyward. He had four small planes at the Concord Regional Airport, where he could quickly fly to any of his restaurants.
“The map gets a lot smaller that way,” Sean Mangan said. “Plus, he was always happy when he was in the air. He just loved flying.”
In his spare time, Jack Mangan flew with the Trojan Horsemen, a T-28 Warbird formation demonstration team. He was performing with the Trojan Horsemen when he crashed.
“He always said his education was paid for by the community, being a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy,” Sean Mangan said. “So he flew in air shows and events like that as a way to entertain and give back to the people who had helped him reach his dreams.”
Mangan’s crash was the second fatal crash at an air show in the United States in a 24-hour period. On Friday, Sept. 16, a plane crashed at an air show in Reno, Nev., killing 10 spectators and seriously injuring 70.
John “Jack” Mangan III
CORNELIUS – John “Jack” W. Mangan III, 54, of Cornelius, died in a plane crash Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, in Martinsburg, W.Va.
Born July 8, 1957, in Boston, Mass., Mr. Mangan was a son of Barbara Lane Mangan, of Fort Pierce, Fla., and the late John W. Mangan Jr. He was raised in Dedham, Mass., and graduated from Dedham High School in 1975. He received a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1979 and served in the U.S. Air Force as a pilot of F-4 and F-15 fighter jets and as an instructor and mission commander who participated in peace-keeping missions and battle. While on active duty, he rose to the rank of major and was awarded three Meritorious Service Medals and named Fighter Pilot of the Year Award in 1984.
Following active duty, Mr. Mangan ventured into the quick-serve restaurant business and at the time of his death served as president and chief operating officer of Restaurant Management Group, a franchisee and owner/operator of 81 Hardee’s and Little Caesars Pizza restaurants in eight states, with more than 2,000 employees. He had been a partner/owner in the company since its founding in 2000. He also served on Hardee’s Food System’s Franchise Advisory Board and was vice president of the Independent Hardee’s Franchisee Association. Mr. Mangan previously was the regional franchisor for Manhattan Bagel in the Carolinas and Georgia. He was the largest regional franchisor in the country.
Mr. Mangan was active in the Veterans Airlift Command, an organization that offers free flights to wounded veterans and their families, and Patriot Foundation, an organization that supports military families who have had loved ones killed or wounded in war. He was a pilot for the Trojan Horsemen, the only six-ship T-28 Warbird formation demonstration team performing in the world today. He was an active member of the Air Force Association and the APOA.
Survivors, in addition to his mother, include his wife of 31 years, Kathleen McKinney Mangan; daughters Pamela, San Francisco, and Elizabeth, Cornelius; son, Sean, and wife, Hannah, Cornelius; sister, Kathleen Cobb, Franklin, Mass.; brother, Michael Mangan, Port St. Lucie, Fla.; and a grandson, Gavin.
The family will receive visitors Thursday, Sept. 22, from 4 to 8 p.m. at St. Mark Catholic Church in Huntersville.
A funeral Mass will be held Friday, Sept. 23, at 11 a.m. at St. Mark Catholic, followed by a graveside service at Northlake Memorial Gardens, Huntersville, with reception to follow. Raymer-Kepner Funeral Home, Huntersville, is in charge.
Memorials: Patriot Foundation, P.O. Box 5069, Pinehurst, NC 28374 or patriotscholarships.com.