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.
At first blush, it might be difficult to think of a plane accident that leads to a fatality from a reason other than a crash. However, experienced pilots are trained to think as airplanes as powerful -- and potentially dangerous -- machines. This was demonstrated in a terrible small plane accident recently that left an American businessman dead on at a Canadian lake.
What tend to be the most accident-prone planes in general aviation? It may not be surprising to learn that the answer is experimental aircraft built by nonprofessionals. In fact, the statistics are quite jarring: experiment aircraft make up about 10 percent of all aircraft considered under the general aviation umbrella, they comprise 15 percent of the accidents among that group and more than 20 percent of accidents resulting in fatalities.