Plywood Proves Dangerous, As Bombs Prove Safe

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A pilot in Alaska got into trouble last week when sheets of plywood strapped beneath the belly of his Cessna 206 caught fire, apparently due to heat from the exhaust. The pilot landed on a sandbar in the Skwentna River and escaped with minor injuries. Alaska is the only state where the FAA allows small planes to carry external loads. Meanwhile, a Marine Corps Harrier AV8-B jet crashed last week in a backyard in Yuma, Ariz., while carrying two tons of live bombs and ammunition. Nobody was seriously hurt, and the pilot ejected safely, but hundreds of residents were evacuated due to the jet's payload. Some of the residents were surprised to learn that the local military exercises included flying near their urban neighborhoods fully armed, but military and civilian officials told The Arizona Republic there is nothing unusual about it. "It allows pilots to experience the effect of live munitions when used against a target," said Air National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Carlos Roque. "There's no surprise. They know what it's going to do, how it's going to perform." None of the bombs exploded despite the crash and ensuing fire, which officials said proves that they are safe. It was the fourth crash of a Harrier from the Yuma air base in 18 months.