An Extra-Lucky Pilot -- Walter Extra's Midair

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Well, any midair collision you walk away from is a good one, right? The folks at Extra Aircraft are counting their lucky stars after the prototype of the company's entry to the high-performance touring/business market very nearly became a tragic NTSB statistic, taking the celebrated founder of the company, Walter Extra, with it. Extra, whose German company is synonymous with high-performance aerobatic aircraft, was at the controls of the EA-500 when a wingtip passed through the propeller arc of a Cessna 182 accompanying his and another Extra aircraft to the National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA) convention earlier this month in Orlando. Extra's U.S. President Ken Weaver said Extra "heard a noise" and advised the other aircraft he was turning back to St. Augustine, where the trio had left a few minutes earlier. All three aircraft landed safely and a nick was discovered on a wingtip fairing of the Extra 500. Weaver said the fairing is a cosmetic part made of composite. He said technicians "mixed up some goop" and had the fairing fixed in minutes. With a little blast of paint, the aircraft was airworthy (and show-worthy) again and the entourage headed for Orlando the next day, presumably with a little more separation. Weaver said the incident occurred while Extra was moving from one side of the 182, piloted by a company official, to the other and he simply misjudged the distance. Weaver said he couldn't explain why the trio was in such tight formation. "We aren't the Blue Angels," he said. The mishap was reported to the NTSB and German authorities (where the 500 is registered) and no further investigation is anticipated. The aircraft has been shown at both NBAA and AOPA Expo since and Weaver said response has been favorable. But if you look really, really closely at the left wingtip....