In less than a week in two separate incidents aircraft departing the North Las Vegas airport crash into homes near the airport. The first crash occurred on 8/22/2008 when a Velocity 173RG rear-propeller-driven experimental home built aircraft crashed into a home killing the pilot and an elderly couple in the home.
The ATP (Airline Transport Pilot) rated pilot flying the Velocity was test flying the aircraft to evaluate the aircraft performance with the supercharger engaged after several high speed ground runs with the supercharger engaged. Shortly after takeoff the controller watched as the aircraft struggled to gain altitude and asked the pilot if he needed assistance. The pilot radioed back “I’m going down, I’m going down.”
This immediately resulted in the airport director for the North Las Vegas Airport, Randy Walker, to opine that these types of aircraft and/or flights should be conducted at more remote airports and locations. He said that he thinks experimental airplanes should be restricted to airports that are located in less densely populated areas. "I think the regulatory process on airport systems need to be revisited in the coming weeks. I am going to ask to meet with the members of our congressional delegation to see if something can be done." Once again, a call to government to fix another problem.
On 8/29/08 a Piper Navajo crashed into a home shortly after takeoff killing the pilot and injuring two on the ground. There were ten people in the home when the crash occurred and all but one escaped without injury.
The twin-engine Piper Navajo Chieftan crashed at 2:34 p.m. at 2828 N. Jones Blvd., a two-story house south of Cheyenne Avenue. The plane began experiencing a rough-running engine shortly after takeoff and was returning to the airport when it went down, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.
Multiple witnesses saw the aircraft just before it crashed after a wing hit a telephone pole and it cart wheeled into the house on N. Jones. Clark County Aviation Director Randall Walker, who oversees operations at the North Las Vegas Airport, said in a statement that the plane landed at the airport earlier in the week and underwent mechanical work, but he had not confirmed details of the work.
Perhaps now Mr. Walker will call for an elimination of maintenance at the North Las Vegas Airport as well. What worries me is that it has been my experience that these types of events come in threes, so I wonder what comes next.
Attention all pilots – no matter what you think or how confident you are, always remember that flying is a dangerous business that requires your very best judgment and full attention at all times.
Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!