Homebuilt Crash In Nevada Brings Call For Ban

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When non-flying bystanders are killed in the crash of a general aviation airplane, it's sure to raise safety concerns about GA airports and operations. Last Friday, when a homebuilt Velocity crashed into a house near North Las Vegas Airport, killing an elderly couple in the house, officials questioned whether experimental aircraft should be allowed to fly from the airport, which is in a densely populated urban area. The airplane had just over five hours total time and the purpose of the flight was to test the performance of the airplane and engine with the supercharger engaged. The airplane failed to gain altitude on climb-out and crashed shortly after takeoff, the NTSB said in a preliminary report. The pilot, Mack Murphree Jr., 76, also was killed. Clark County Aviation Director Randy Walker said he thinks experimental airplanes should be restricted to airports that are located in less densely populated areas. "I think the regulatory process on airport systems need to be revisited in the coming weeks. I am going to ask to meet with the members of our congressional delegation to see if something can be done," he said at a news conference. "I do not believe under our circumstances that experimental and high-risk aircraft operations, such as training and solo flights, belong in an urban airport," he said. EAA President Tom Poberezny responded with a letter to Walker this week, citing the safety record of amateur-built aircraft operations at that airport. "To propose that eliminating all Experimental aircraft from the airport would enhance its safety record is unjustified," Poberezny wrote.

"The answer does not lie in restricting entire segments of aviation in response to any single accident or incident. Rather, we must continually learn from experience and continue to advance the safety of flight." Velocity released a statement expressing sadness over the accident, and noted that there have been "no Velocity accidents that have been attributable to the design of the aircraft."