Pilot Accepts Suspension For Collision With Skydiver
The pilot of a plane that collided with a skydiver, causing fatal injuries, has agreed to accept a nine-month suspension of all of his aviation certificates. But William J. Buchmann's lawyer, R. Patrick Phillips, says the 57-year-old pilot is not admitting that he violated any regulations, despite accusations by the FAA that he flew the aircraft in a "grossly careless or reckless manner" when it struck his longtime friend Albert "Gus" Wing over Deland Airport last April. "Our view is that this was an accident and nothing more," Phillips told the Orlando Sentinel. And while they mourned the loss of Wing, colleagues and patrons at Skydive Deland, including Wing's family, are rallying behind Buchmann, who's being kept on at the skydive center, doing ground jobs, while he serves the suspension. "He's one of the best, most competent pilots that [has] ever worked in our industry," said Skydive Deland owner Bob Hallett. Buchmann was returning to the airport after dropping a load of skydivers when the Twin Otter he was flying struck Wing about 600 feet above the ground, severing his legs. Wing managed to land safely but died later from his injuries. The FAA revoked Buchmann's certificates in August and he was scheduled to appear before an NTSB administrative judge to appeal the revocation last week, before striking the suspension deal with the FAA. The NTSB is still investigating the accident and the FAA is warning more sanctions against Buchmann could follow.