We are finishing up our discussion of the plane crash that killed four Case Western Reserve University students. The news has been fairly quiet in the past week, following the flurry of stories about text messages and pictures and potential lawsuits.
Most plane accidents occur on takeoff or landing. In the case of the small plane crash we have been talking about -- the crash that killed all four Case Western Reserve University students aboard -- the pilot radioed the tower moments after takeoff that the plane was not gaining altitude. Chances are that the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration investigators will rely in part on what they have learned from all those other accidents to figure out what caused this one.
The National Transportation Safety Board has issued its preliminary report about the Aug. 25, 2014, private plane crash we were discussing in our last post. The pilot and three passengers were all students at Case Western Reserve University; the flight was apparently a short sightseeing excursion. Shortly after takeoff, though, the 20-year-old pilot radioed the control tower that he was having trouble gaining altitude. The plane crashed, and the four occupants died, either on impact or in the fire that followed.
Four men were killed when a private plane crashed in northeastern Ohio earlier this week. The plane, carrying four Case Western Reserve University students, had trouble at takeoff. The pilot notified the control tower that he was having trouble climbing, and he attempted to turn back to the airport. The plane could not maintain altitude.
For nearly a week the world has been riveted by day-to-day developments in the Malaysia Airlines crash in the Ukraine. Both the FBI and the National Transportation Safety Board are helping with the investigation, alongside investigators from a number of other countries. According to USA Today, the NTSB is contributing its expertise to understanding the information on both black boxes.
Most of the time on our U.S. aviation accidents blog, when we write about accidents involving small aircraft, it is in relation to planes that crash into the ground or, less likely, into each other. But what is almost unheard of is a small plane accident involving an aircraft and a person on the ground. However, that's what happened recently at a tiny airport in North Carolina.
It might be easy to forget just how much of a marvel airplanes are. The world's greatest scientists were stumped for ages trying to figure out how to get up in the air, without much luck until Orville and Wilbur Wright finally made it work. Since then, of course, it would be an understatement to say that technology has grown by leaps and bounds. The Wright Brothers could scarcely have imagined what airplanes look like, and are used for, today.
Because of their size, aviation accidents involving small planes often involve casualties. Sadly, this was an incident that took place in Florida last week. A 53-year-old pilot from Illinois was flying his daughter and her friend on a spring break trip when the plane hit power lines about eight miles from the airport. The pilot was killed in the small plane accident and the two girls were both hurt.
It goes without saying that small plane accidents can have tragic results. What people may not consider is that because many of these private airplane accidents occur near small airports, some of which are near heavily populated neighborhoods, injuries to people on the ground are a real possibility. That means that someone who may never have set foot inside a small plane could be injured when one crashes.
When it comes to things that some of us would never do, jumping out of an airplane in flight is probably near the top of the list. However, that doesn't stop skydivers, for whom free-falling thousands of feet toward the ground is a pleasure, not a punishment.