STRATFORD, Conn. — Jeffrey Pino, 61, former president and CEO of Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, was killed Friday in a crash of his vintage airplane in Arizona, according to Aviation International News.
He was one of two victims in the crash in Maricopa, Ariz., of an F-51D Mustang, named "Big Beautiful Doll," AIN said.
Pino, who led Sikorsky from 2006 to 2012, was piloting the World War II-era fighter plane, and another unidentified man from Connecticut also died in the crash, the Connecticut Post said.
"The Sikorsky family is saddened to learn of the sudden loss of former President Jeff Pino," Sikorksy President Dan Schultz said in a statement.
"During his six years as president of Sikorsky, Jeff brought personal energy and passion for aviation innovation to our industry. It was during his time leading Sikorsky that the company first flew the X2 Technology demonstrator. We remember Jeff as a leader, pioneer, innovator and advocate."
Pino retired from Sikorsky in 2012 and became vice chairman of rival startup XTI Aircraft Co. in Colorado last fall.
"There are no words to express the grief and sadness we feel at the passing of our very dear friend and colleague Jeff Pino on February 5," said a post from David Brody, founder and chairman, XTI Aircraft on the company's website. "As the former President of Sikorsky Aircraft, Jeff was a true leader, pioneer and industry legend. As the Vice Chairman of XTI Aircraft Company, Jeff was a brilliant strategist, visionary and expert in all things aviation."
Brody also said, "Jeff loved flying."
According to XTI, Pino served as senior vice president at Bell Helicopter, and also as senior vice president for corporate strategy, marketing and commercial programs for Sikorsky.
He joined the Stratford-based helicopter manufacturer in 2002 and became president in 2006. There, he was responsible for the development of strategic plans, mergers and acquisitions, advanced programs, worldwide sales, marketing, communications, and the execution of commercial programs.
After retiring from Sikorsky in 2012, Pino led Macquarie Rotorcraft Leasing as chief executive officer. He was a retired master Army aviator and served in U.S. Army active, reserve, and National Guard assignments for 26 years. He was a certified airplane and helicopter instructor pilot and an aerobatic and air show performer.
“Jeff Pino was loved and respected by all who knew him, and our entire state owes him a debt of gratitude for his dynamic leadership of Sikorsky," said U.S. Richard Blumenthal. "Jeff led the company at a vital time, helping to develop new, powerful aircraft that brought new, skilled jobs to Connecticut and continue to protect and defend our nation today. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and the workers of Sikorsky."