On Saturday night a prayer vigil was held for Dr. Joseph Masessa, the pilot who died suddenly when the plane he was flying ahead of the Stuart Air Show crashed Friday afternoon. Friends, family members and even strangers all coming together outside the show’s main entrance for a prayer and moment of reflection.
“He’s always put on a brilliant show,” said Terri Pring.
Pring and her husband own Pring photography and have photographed Dr. Masessa in action for several years leading up to Friday’s crash.
“And he’s really good at showing off not only the plane but the history of it,” said Pring.
In fact, Masessa had more than 1,600 names of prisoners of war and those missing in action from the Vietnam war written on the side of his Grumman OV-1 Mohawk.
“I wish I could have met him I really do,” said Kelly Hibl.
Hibl didn’t know Masessa but felt compelled to organize the vigil as soon as she heard what happened.
“Seeing the photos, his smile says it all it really does, you know and he was doing something that he loved,” said Hibl.
While that brings many solace, they are still distraught over what occurred.
“Until they finish their investigations, we can’t know what happened, but it’s a loss for the community for sure,” said Pring.
The FAA and NTSB continue to investigate. The Audi Stuart Air Show released a statement saying Sunday’s show will be dedicated to Dr. Masessa. Gates open at 9 a.m. and they will be honoring tickets purchased for Friday and Saturday on Sunday, as well as exchanging any unscanned tickets for this year’s show in return for tickets to the 2020 show.