Joe Masessa, you will be deeply missed

04 Nov

Here’s what I know and what I can tell you.

I’m still processing this but as I am I see people getting things wrong on the Internet.

My friend, air show pilot and doctor Joe Masessa, who owned Mohawk Airshows was killed preparing for the Stuart Airshow. He was flying the Mohawk at the time of the crash. I have flown with Joe and known him for a couple of years. This personally deeply saddens and sickens me.

Although he is originally from New Jersey, he had a condo in West Palm Beach and all four of his planes were stored in a hanger at Palm Beach International Airport. I have flown with him and knew some things about him that perhaps other people do not know.

In the hangar at Palm Beach International airport was the Mohawk which was a recognizance spy plane,  Saudi Arabian Fighter Jet and a Cheyenne. I will be very interested to know what happened to that plane. There are a few other things to consider. The Mohwak was the most difficult of all the planes to fly. The plane had substantial age. I am hoping that this was a mechanical error.

Here’s why I say that. Some time ago, Joe was outside of a bar and briefly spoke to some guy’s girlfriend and the guy hit him hard in the head. There was an ongoing lawsuit between Joe and that party. On more than one occassion Joe and I talked about his concerns with his head. He was noticing “changes.” In being around him and flying with him, I never saw evidence that he had lost control over that. Nonetheless I told him that he should see someone I knew who’s an expert on CTE. Joe also felt like he had the beginnings of CTE.

If this is not mechanical error, then I have completely failed you as your friend by not insisting that you do this now and not this winter. He wanted to go see the expert. It was on his to do list. He was deeply afraid of what this head injury would bring in the future. Disorientation is a stage one symptom of CTE.

The story with the different locations is that he would see patients in New Jersey, Myrtle Beach and West Palm. So he would spend a few weeks here, a few weeks there, etc.

I knew him to be a very, very good pilot. And he was someone that cared. When the hurricane hit, he texted me if I wanted a ride on one of the planes out of Palm Beach. I said “No. I’m staying.” And followed up through the hurricane to make sure everything was ok.

But even very, very good pilots can not overcome catastrophic merchanical problems. And deep in my heart, I hope that was the reason for the crash. these are the crash photos.

This is going to take a while for me to process this and also see if I remember anything else that might be important. I’m just in shock at the moment.

I came home for the day because I just can’t focus. I wanted to see what I could learn about the crash.


There were some pilots on the ground who could see what we couldn’t see before the cell phone videos. I watched the videos including the impact. It’s a hard thing to watch but I’m looking for clues. The only way I’m going to be able to cope with this is to pick it apart and get answers. I need answers.

The pilots on the ground reported this

What that would indicate is that he pushed the envelope too hard with the maneuver and it went into an accelerated stall. He did like to push things hard in the air but what I really want to know is whether a delay in thinking caused the error or was it just too much weight and angle for the aircraft.

As for those of you asking about a heart condition. He did not have a heart condition. He had a head injury from the concussion and he had gout. No heart condition.

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