A wrongful death suit arising out of the deaths of a father and son at an air show in Shelby County has been filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court. On September 23, 2006, John W. Smitherman, Pam Smitherman, and their son, Landon, attended the “Wings and Wheels Air Show” in Calera, Alabama, which was sponsored by the Birmingham Aero Club Air Safe Foundation. Mr. Smitherman and his son were paying passengers on a Beech Bonanza F33 aircraft provided by its owners for use at the show. Shortly after takeoff from the Shelby County Airport, the airplane experienced a total loss of engine power and inadvertent stall due to a lack of fuel. While Mrs. Smitherman watched, the airplane crashed, causing the tragic deaths of Mr. Smitherman and his son. Defendants named in the lawsuit are C.J. Aviation, the Executrix of the Estate of Clayton Reuse, Birmingham Aero Club Air Safe Foundation, and Jon Rogers, who was one of the owners of the airplane.
The firm of Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles is representing Ms. Smitherman. When filing the suit, Cole Portis, a lawyer in the firm, stated, “Our firm was selected to represent Pam Smitherman, a courageous lady who lost her husband and son in the crash. She desires for the complete story of this airplane crash to be made public so that in the future, safety is the paramount issue for the Air Show and pilots. The deaths of John and Landon were senseless. The Birmingham Aero Club Air Safe Foundation and the pilot failed to ensure there was enough gas in the plane’s engine before taking off with these two victims. Once the pilot realized his plane was out of gas, he maneuvered the plane in a manner that was contrary to accepted pilot standards. Mrs. Smitherman witnessed the horrific deaths of her husband and only son, which has caused her tremendous mental pain and anguish.”