On April 4, 2012 Howard Pardue, long time Reno Air Race unlimited owner/pilot was lost in an accident when his Bearcat crashed shortly after take-off at Stephens County Airport in Breckenridge Texas.
Pardue had been racing since 1982 and usually fielded his Sea Fury and his Bearcat although his first year was with his Wildcat. Howard loved to fly his Bearcat and was a great showman and gentleman. He first raced #14 Bearcat in 1983 qualifying at 375 mph. He also flew his #13 Sea Fury "Fury" over the years with help from Nelson Ezell as sometimes they would be in the same race. Fury was always a bit faster than Bearcat.
Mostly a Silver contender, Howard came out in 208 qualifying the Bearcat at 417 mph. That's a big jump from the high 300's he had been turning for years. In 2009 he extended that with a qual speed of 418.925 mph.
Howard has performed an aerobatic routine in his Bearcat for many, many years. He graced the sky with smoothness and that great sound of the Bearcat. He enjoyed showing the performance of the F8F to many airshow fans. He was a landmark at Reno. You could always count on seeing him, his Bearcat and his Sea Fury.
Pardue was 77, a former Marine Corps pilot and instructor, part of the U.S. Navy Legacy flight program, an airshow performer and of course an outstanding air race veteran.