Friday Foibles: Hey, Who Needs A License?
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.