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Red Bull aerobatic pilot killed in Apple Valley crash

An aerobatic pilot for Red Bull was killed Sunday when his jet aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff from the Apple Valley Airport, the beverage company announced.

Mike Mangold, 60, was piloting an L-39 trainer around 2 p.m. when the plane crashed in a fireball, killing Mangold and another unidentified person, officials said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the cause of the accident in San Bernardino County, according to agency spokesman Keith Holloway. On Monday, experts continued to examine wreckage of the aircraft.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of former Red Bull Air Race World Champion Mike Mangold,” Red Bull said in a statement. “The entire Red Bull Air Race community have lost one of their most vibrant and respected friends. Mike Mangold was a talented race pilot who won two world championships and will be deeply missed. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.”

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In air racing, pilots fly at low altitudes and high speeds to perform aerobatic movements on specially designed aerial racetracks.

Mangold began his aviation career in the U.S. Air Force in 1978, where he flew F-4 Phantoms. He was a graduate of the Air Force Academy and Air Force’s “Top Gun” Fighter Weapons School, according to RacingJets.com.

He later flew Boeing 757 and 767 commercial jets for American Airlines. He competed in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship from 2004-09, and won overall titles in 2005 and 2007 before retiring from the competitive sport.

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Afterward he worked as a commentator and a pilot coach.

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