Road Takeoff Goes Wrong

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There's no law against taking an airplane off from a road (just like there's no law against running out of fuel and having to land on the road in the first place) but sometimes it's just not a good idea. Many of the townsfolk of Baker, La., were watching (and at least one had a video camera) last Wednesday when Michael Simon attempted to take off from a road in his Cessna 210. On the roll, the plane grazed a truck-trailer before striking a wing on the back of a fire-rescue truck and careening into a ditch. Simon came through without a scratch but the same cannot be said for the 210. A "lapse in communication" is blamed for Simon's trying to take off before police and fire officials, who blocked the road, were completely ready. Simon's plane ran out of fuel on approach to Metro Airport on Tuesday and he made a successful dead-stick landing on the road. FAA spokesman Roland Herwig said the agency suggested he get the plane trucked to the airport but it couldn't enforce that suggestion. He said there's no regulation against it and it's up to local authorities to give permission. "We were not involved in the takeoff but now we are involved in two accident investigations" (remember, it hit two trucks). One truck lost a mirror but neither was seriously damaged.