FAA Investigating Source Of Fallen Metal Object


The FAA has joined the hunt for the airline and airplane that dropped a substantial piece of hardware on the granite sidewalk in front of the Maine State Legislature in Augusta, narrowly missing a Capitol Police employee. The 6- to 7-pound machined hunk of steel, which may be a sleeve or bushing of some sort, hit the rock courtyard a few feet from the guard about 12:30 p.m. last Friday. So far, it doesn’t appear anyone has formally identified the hunk of metal (anyone out there willing to take a stab?) nor are there any reports of any landing issues with aircraft that were in the area at the time.

“The FAA has launched an investigation while attempting to locate the source of the part which is likely from a large airliner on an international route,” the agency said in a statement last week to USA Today. Meanwhile, the police said their employee didn’t miss a beat but he definitely had something to think about. “It definitely shocked him,” Capitol Police Chief Matthew Clancy said. “He was walking back to the building and got quite a wakeup call.”

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

Other AVwebflash Articles


  1. Any reports of UFOs in the area around that time? 😉

    Seriously, though, if they think it came off of an airliner, why not show it to some airline mechanics? They would be the most likely group to identify it.

  2. Unless this is a piece of a part that broke away there should be a part number or serial number on it, unless it is not an aircraft part.

  3. Looks like some sort of heavy duty roller to me (and therefore unlikely to be off an aeroplane) – but without any more info (dims, symmetry, material etc, etc) I might as well try and pick the lotto numbers correctly. I suppose it could have been left in or picked up by (thrown up off a runway?) an aircraft and then released on undercarriage doors being opened? Pretty unlikely…

  4. Looks like part of an HVAC rooftop system. I suggest that the state of Maine facilities engineering department check nearby rooftops for missing HVAC intake or exhaust shrouds…

  5. Doesn’t look like an airplane part, even a weight or spacer. – finish and recess radius for example.

    More like a Grecian urn, but such would have smashed on impact.

    Perhaps fell out of cargo hold or someone dropped it onto police.

    I hope police are investigating the probability it was dropped from the roof targeting the employee. Police are being attacked, often randomly, but so are civilians not connected to police, (Angry spouse or hired hit person for example, gangstas of Surrey BC would like to – and some of their hired hit persons are amateurs.)

  6. It is definitely not an airplane part. Ok, this thing, whatever it is, fell from the sky. OH yea! it must have fallen from an aircraft! Yes! an airline aircraft! Slow down buddy. Lot’s of stuff can fall from the sky coming from different places other than aircraft.
    Start investigating the surroundings. It could even be a son of a gun, literally, playing shoot stuff into the air and hit whatever, whoever! Who knows! The world right now if filled with crazy people. So let the smart ones investigate the case and live the lunatics to tell stories on the side. LOL

  7. I’ve done a lot of preflight walkarounds of transport aircraft, props and jets, never saw anything like that. My take is it’s not an aircraft part that would be able to fall off in flight.

  8. Have there been any reports of a mysterious figure calling himself Frank lurking around in a creepy-looking rabbit suit?

  9. My misspent youth leads me to believe we are looking at the results of a pneumatic or black powder mortar, aka, a large potato gun. Trying to shake the cobwebs out of my physics brain, 6-7 pounds and making some assumptions about aspect ratio and wall thickness puts that chuck of steel in the range of 4-6″ diameter with similar length. Running some basic projectile motion calculations, 250 ft/s muzzle velocity gives us range of ~1300ft, lots of houses and business within that radius. Interestingly, terminal velocity of that hunk of steel would be around 200-250 ft/s, so kinda hard to distinguish the difference based on the effects.

  10. It seems to me that this thing should be bent or broken if it’s made out of metal and fell from an aircraft.
    I remember years ago at Island Helicopters in NY, a Twin star returned from a maintenance Testflight minus engine cowling. It was never found and fortunately as far as I remember it didn’t damage the aircraft as it exited said aircraft. As for those who noticed a spray of jet fuel exiting a Sikorsky SK58t between 34th St heliport and Garden City around the same time. Yes, I’m sorry, that was me, the fueler forgot to put the fuel cap back on……

  11. If it came from an airplane, it would have had a sizeable forward velocity as well as its downward speed. If that were the case, it would have bounced along the ground for some distance before coming to rest. A close examination of the photo does not indicate the type of damage (dents, scrapes, etc.) that one would expect from that type of impact, considering its 4-6 pound weight. Therefore, I would suspect it fell straight down (or nearly so) from a low level – perhaps the roof of a nearby building.

    • Thankyou for basic physics that is being overlooked.

      (I don’t see helicopters having such pieces, perhaps to weight a long line to keep it out of tail rotors but I expect something else would be used like a heavy cargo net or fuel drum.)

    • Not if it was very high at all. Wind resistance would put it in a parabolic curve, at the end of which it would be virtually, if not entirely, vertical.