Friday Foibles: Hey, Who Needs A License?

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The further one gets from the regulated lower 48, the less those pesky rules get in the way. That necessariy leads to some really interesting accidents. Alaskans fly a helluva lot more than most humans and operate off some mind-bogglingly rough terrain, such as hillsides, glaciers, remote gravel bars or other unlikely surfaces. 

To fully grasp this mishap, mentally play the Northern Exposure theme music as you consider the pilot “attempting to takeoff from a public street” in Wasilla, where he couldn’t get any climb going before smacking into a light pole. Fortunately, we do have rules for Friday Fobles and one is that we consider accidents only if no one was hurt. And no one was. The pilot later admitted he’d “failed to remove heavy frost from the airplane prior to the takeoff attempt.” We're pretty sure there's a mention of this in the POH.

Texas is a lot like Alaska—big, has some oil, and regulations tend to be interpreted as advisory-only. Witness this Texan in his two-seat Rans Coyote. Even the name says Don’t Mess With Texas, so the non-certificated pilot, who “had not held any kind of pilot certificate since his student pilot certificate expired about 40 years ago” and had “no record of ever having had any instruction,” displayed lone-star confidence and took a friend for a ride. Everything went smoothly until the wheels left the ground, after which the wily Coyote stalled, crashed and burst into flames. Yes, he walked away, so no harm done, and probably no lessons learned. Bleep-Bleep!

For years, our sister magazine, IFR, has offered The Bent Prop Award for accidents that top the list for, ummm, shallow thinking. In 2013, it went to a Comanche pilot in Ohio who, without setting the hand brake, started the 250-HP engine, felt the aircraft unexpectedly (Really?) moving forward and took immediate action to ensure spectacular defeat by advancing the throttle, while reaching for the hand brake. Too little brake with too much power, and the Comanche collided with a hangar. You know those things called checklists? It's been proven that they actually work.

Comments (20)

Foibles? Somebody left the gate open. Again.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | February 8, 2018 11:00 PM    Report this comment

Technically, of course, these examples prove that checklists don't actually work.

Just sayin'.

It's Friday. I'm being difficult.

Posted by: Thomas Boyle | February 9, 2018 7:17 AM    Report this comment

"Texas....regulations tend to be interpreted as advisory-only."

Excuse me, but Texas has Lockheed/Martin, Textron, Air Power, United Airlines, NASA, Mooney, RedBird simulators and FlightSafety and some of the busiest well run airspace on the planet. Where do you get off making that kind of a derogatory and obviously ill-informed statement?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 9, 2018 8:56 AM    Report this comment

Alright! Next.

Posted by: Jason Baker | February 9, 2018 10:57 AM    Report this comment

These Friday Foibles sure bring out the hidden sensitive PC side of the ruff tuff airmen who hang out in the Avweb hangar. Never thought I'd see experienced aircraft pilots take such offense at a little good-natured joking.

Posted by: Rollin Olson | February 9, 2018 4:38 PM    Report this comment

It's not so much PC as the continued condescending attitude that the South is backwards and stuck in civil war days. The idea that it's "good-natured joking" to demean the pilot population in the South is just getting worn thin and offensive. We in Texas have one of the most vibrant pilot populations in the world as well as one of the largest aviation manufactures and safety training systems that exist. Saying that we in Texas "tend to ignore regulations" is just asinine and not funny.

Just because Paul is in Iowa does not mean he's a corn farming hick who married his sister. Can we just give the old wrong stereotypes a rest. Please?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 9, 2018 7:04 PM    Report this comment

Paul married his sister Iowa?

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | February 9, 2018 7:17 PM    Report this comment

Mark -

Whoa. Caught me by surprise there. Personally, I don't think of Texas as being in the South - more like a land unto itself that identifies with the Lone Star Republic, and thinks it could secede from the Union when ever it wanted to. I may have the wrong impression, but I don't hear about a whole lot of love in the Lone Star State for government regulations that are set in Washington. (Insert good-natured joke here)

Seriously though, now that the Confederate Air Force changed its name, I'm sure that aviation in Texas has moved into the 21st Century.

Posted by: Rollin Olson | February 9, 2018 8:59 PM    Report this comment

Let's not bring in California into the mix. No sir. Maybe Florida.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | February 10, 2018 12:42 AM    Report this comment

"Snow flakes." Nuttin but "snow flakes" even in Texas. OMG, we're surrounded.

Posted by: Thomas Cooke | February 10, 2018 3:11 AM    Report this comment

The story from Paul Berge sounds like he's (let me use church language here) repeating folklore. There IS NO such accident on record of 2 people crashing a Rans Coyote on departure in Texas by an unlicensed pilot.

There is one in 2016 of a 75 year old student pilot with a valid medial certificate and solo endorsement that landed off-airport in a SINGLE SEAT Coyote S-4 due to an engine failure and received serous injuries.

I'm calling (using my pilot language here) horse shyite on this story. But then again, we all know that Yankee journalists can't be trusted ;-)

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 10, 2018 9:44 AM    Report this comment

Fake News!! ;-)

Posted by: John McNamee | February 10, 2018 11:27 AM    Report this comment

"The further one gets from the regulated lower 48, the less those pesky rules get in the way...
...pilot "attempting to takeoff from a public street" in Wasilla"

What regulation, rule or law are you talking about? Anyone who spends fifteen minutes in Wasilla knows the roads are for everything transportation. In the winter there's more snow-machines, side-by-sides, tracksters and four-wheelers than trucks on the Alaska 'access' system.

That makes both stories inaccurate. Do you write for CNN?

Posted by: Klaus Marx | February 10, 2018 1:11 PM    Report this comment

I've landed my Aeronca in a bean field, taxied down a driveway and departed a country road. Don't believe I violated any reg and the farm kid watching has a great memory. Come to think of it, I do too😁. Then again, maybe it was a dream.

Posted by: jay Manor | February 10, 2018 2:47 PM    Report this comment

Alternative "right wing in aviation" facts. Do you write for the Press Sec? Sh****t!

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | February 10, 2018 5:19 PM    Report this comment

"The story from Paul Berge sounds like he's (let me use church language here) repeating folklore. There IS NO such accident on record of 2 people crashing a Rans Coyote on departure in Texas by an unlicensed pilot."

Mark Fraser, you should get your facts straight before posting and perhaps learn now to use a search engine. The accident in question is CEN13CA430 from the NTSB database. For your edification and for people interested in actual facts, I reproduce below the full narrative. Schertz, TX was the site.

"The pilot reported that he had not held any kind of pilot certificate since his student pilot certificate
expired about 40 years ago. He also reported that he had no record of receiving any flight instruction.
During takeoff, after liftoff from the departure end of the runway, the airspeed was too slow and the
airplane would not climb and would not accelerate. The airplane drifted to the left and impacted trees
and terrain on the edge of the airfield property. After the pilot and passenger exited the airplane there
was an explosion and the airplane was destroyed by the postimpact fire. The pilot reported no
preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal
operation."

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 11, 2018 8:20 AM    Report this comment

So. There!

Posted by: Jason Baker | February 11, 2018 2:53 PM    Report this comment

I wondered who would disturb the chirps from Fraser's cricket farm. (Sorry ;-) )

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 11, 2018 3:38 PM    Report this comment

I'll bite. Since the NTSB database does NOT return this accident when you search for every "RANS" accidents everywhere and for all dates, I guess I should have searched on "alvarez " and would have found it much more quickly. My bad, thanks for posting the incident number.

As far as "confidence and took a friend for a ride", he did have 200 hours in type and it does not say if the "friend" held a rating. If the plane would neither accelerate or climb at that early time of day, it may have had engine problems (or structural/control issues related to it's 2012 terrain impact). Not sure we'll know for sure since the plane burned and the NTSB did not investigate.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 11, 2018 4:01 PM    Report this comment

Next time, Mark, I would respectfully ask that you request clarification before accusing of us making things up then not being able to back it up.

Fair?

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 12, 2018 5:34 AM    Report this comment

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