By Russ Niles, Editor-in-Chief
A. Joseph Stack's slow burn may have started more than 20 years ago when he learned that federal law virtually forbade him from pursuing his career as a software engineer as an independent contractor rather than an employee. It's now considered fact that Stack deliberately flew his Piper PA-28-236 Dakota into an IRS office in Austin, TX last Thursday, killing himself and one person in the building and injuring two others. Although Stack's specific problems with the IRS may have been more complicated (reports say an audit revealed $12,700 in undeclared income by his wife), in his suicide note, he cited a 1986 law that specifically targets computer industry workers. The law was intended to ensure that highly-paid freelancers didn't escape paying mandatory tax and social security deductions and has also been described as a favor to certain high tech companies by powerful Washington insiders. The FAA briefly closed Georgetown Airport, where Stack launched on his apparent suicide mission after a note was found in his car saying a bomb had been left at the airport.
The Austin event was the second crash of an aircraft in an urban area in as many days. Wednesday a Cessna 310R registered to a senior executive at Tesla Motors hit a tower or power lines and crashed in a Palo Alto neighborhood, damaging three houses, one of which housed a daycare. No one on the ground was injured but three people on the plane, all Tesla employees, were killed. They have not been positively identified. The aircraft had just taken off from Palo Alto Airport, which was reporting heavy fog and visibility of less than an eighth of a mile at the time. There is some speculation the aircraft lost its left engine on takeoff but authorities are a long way from confirming that. The tower and power line damaged in the incident fed most of Palo Alto and power was out for hours.
The final transmissions to Georgetown Tower from N2889D, believed to be the crash aircraft, were recorded. (Click to listen).