God Really Was Troubled King Air Crew's Copilot
A King Air B200 landed Friday at Cape Giardeau, Mo., with a cracked windshield, buckled skins and much of its horizontal stabilizer gone, but the beginning of this story is just as interesting. John Taylor was acting as Flight Nurse aboard an aeromedical helicopter in the area that day transporting a specialty team when his pilot said he saw something nearby fall and hit the ground. Taylor and his pilot looked around and quickly diverted to avoid falling debris. There was a King Air almost directly above them, and it was in trouble. At 27,000 feet, the King Air crew had experienced windshield failure. Sheldon Stone, the 4,200-hour ATP-rated pilot at the controls, and copilot Adam Moore donned their oxygen masks and depressurized the aircraft to prevent the windshield from blowing out. Stone twisted the valve to begin the flow of oxygen but felt it wasn't coming. And that's when things got really bad.
"We were both getting drunk really fast. I remember thinking, really slowly, 'Hey, I'm not getting any oxygen, what's wrong here?' But I was so loony already at that point I couldn't even solve the problem if it could be solved," Stone told The Southeast Missourian. The sole-occupant pilots passed out and came to with their aircraft nose down at 7,000 feet at a high rate of speed. They recovered with difficulty and declared an emergency, diverting to Cape Girardeau Airport (KCGI). Somewhere in the descent or recovery, the airframe had suffered structural damage, which was witnessed by Taylor and his pilot. "I thought I was home free," Stone told the newspaper, "but then I realized how hard it was to get the plane under control and I started to think, 'Wait a minute. This thing isn't over yet. I've got to find a way to land.'" The aircraft would pitch up when accelerated and down when slowed. Stone felt there was a window of control and picked a speed of 160 knots for approach. The aircraft landed at about 145 knots without further incident. Stone attributes his good fortune in part to the aircraft's heritage. The King Air was formerly owned by a Christian Assembly of God association combining that name with a holy number for its former registration, N777AG. The registration change to the current N777AJ now acknowledges "Assembly of Jesus."
AVweb's Glenn Pew spoke with Taylor about what he saw. Click here to listen.
KING AIR B200 PHOTO GALLERY
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