Amanda Franklin…. Gone West

Buddy Holly, J.P Richardson, Ritchie Valens, and their pilot Roger Peterson passed into aviation history one cold night in Iowa.

Another famous flier Amanda Franklin passed on Saturday May 27th, 2011 at 10:10PM CST, joining the ranks of Marilyn Monroe and Lady Diana as very special people who left this earth well before their time had come.

As we all know Amanda and Kyle were involved in a tragic fire and forced landing several months ago in Texas. Tragic is a word that is overused in our language, but it really fits here; there are few other ways to describe what has happened. Kyle suffered burns and some traumatic injuries. Amanda was severely burned, and has undergone heroic treatment and care since that time. She has been through a lot. With medical technology today she has gone a lot further than she might have 10 years ago. Still, not all can be saved and returned to their lives and loved ones. Many of us have been following the story daily with Kyle’s posts on Facebook and Caring Bridge and have been going through all of this with Kyle.

Amanda was a rare combination of things that added up into a great performer. Obviously, she had the looks of a supermodel combined with a great personality. She moved like a ballerina on the airplane and had the physical strength to be one of the best wing walkers of all time. More than that, she was also a fellow pilot, with multi engine and tailwheel ratings. Kyle and Amanda took their show to a new level making it the “Pirated Skies” with choreography, narration, and music that told a story. Most wing walking concerns making passes with the wing walker in a different position on the plane. The Pirated Skies made it into a story, something very special. Most spectators in the crowd might dismiss it as a complete fabrication, but this was a story of true never ending and perpetual love. It was simple and true story of Kyle and Amanda’s undying love for each other. When you saw them together, you could see it in their eyes. What great people, really a rare perfect couple, making for one of the best airshow experiences of this century.


Two of the toughest people were Kyle and Amanda’s mothers; Jeanie Younkin and Audean Franklin. I understand they were in the waiting room at the hospital everyday which is difficult in and of itself. It’s harder when you consider both their husbands, Jimmy Franklin and Bobby Younkin were killed in a midair collision in Canada in the summer of 2005. They both have sons in the airshow business. Matt Younkin is still flying and I’m sure Kyle Franklin will return after he fully recovers.

Amanda’s condition was going downhill for a while and on May 26th, Kyle made the decision to put her on “Comfort Care”. This is a state where you keep the patient as comfortable as possible and no heroic measures are taken; further treatment is stopped. This is the most difficult decision that a spouse can make and it’s not made lightly. If you carefully read Kyle’s post below, you can see he went through a lot making it.

From Kyle’s Facebook

• Friday, May 27, 2011 5:35 AM, EDT
5-26-11 Day 75

Amanda had a really hard day. During dressing change this morning she started bleeding really bad and they had a hard time stopping it. Her body has gotten to the point that if you touch her or even look at her wrong she starts bleeding and her blood is not coagulating. Her wounds today looked more infected then the last three days and the antibiotics don’t seem to be doing much. Her kidneys have almost completely shut down, her liver is starting to fail and she looks like she was still in a lot of pain. The doctors believe she wouldn’t make it another two weeks in time for the EpiCels much less the procedure and I have to agree after seeing her wounds. So, I made the hardest decision of my life today and put her on Comfort Care. They have taken her off most everything with the exception of the ventilator, sedation meds and pain meds. They placed her in a more comfortable position and are doing everything to make her as comfortable as possible.

I believe at this point this is what she would want me to do. I also believe if she did pull through at this point she would kill me for it, a month ago I would have said otherwise. This is a decision I never in my life would have thought I would have to make nor ever wanted too. But, I don’t want her to go through another four weeks of hell when we know it will do no good. We do not have a time table on things, most likely a day or two. I will continue to keep you all updated.

Know that she is not alone her mom, brother and his wife, my mother, myself and all of you in spirit are here with her. I feel Amanda will be very happy to see her dad, my dad and of corse Jackson again. But the hardest thing is she’s leaving us all behind, till another day.

Amanda my love, I love you with all my heart, soul and everything I am. Our life together here was supposed to be seventy years not seven, but I look forward to seeing you in my dreams every night my love.

Thank you all for your love, support and help through all this.

Goodnight and God bless,



Amanda passed within a day after being put on Comfort Care; and no description is better than Kyle’s.

• Saturday, May 28, 2011 3:33 AM, EDT
It is with a broken heart that I tell you that my beautiful girl Amanda passed away at 10:10 central time this evening. Beside her was her adoring husband Kyle, her mother Jeanie, her brother Matt, her sister-in-law Michelle and her devoted mother-in-law Audean.

Thank you all again for your love,

Goodnight and God bless Amanda,



A Tribute.

Kyle, from your friends here at PhotoRecon, and the aviation community as a whole, we are with you on this one. .

Godspeed Amanda, and God Bless you all.

(click to open)

Now here is a wonderful gesture. The Wings and Wheels airshow the day after Amanda’s passing did a missing man formation in honor of this great lady!! Watch!!


You can contact the author, Mark Hrutkay, at TNMark@Me.Com.

Mark Hrutkay

Mark has been a member of the International Association of Aviation Photographers (ISAP) for several years and attends all their events and seminars. He has won several awards for his work and has been published in several aviation magazines, domestic and foreign. You can contact Mark Hrutkay at TNMark@Me.Com.

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