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3 Ways To Die Flying Airplanes

by John M. White |  | 2 comments

For those of us who journey into the wild blue yonder the sky is our home where we feel at peace with the world. The views we see on early morning flights as the sun peeks over the horizon, the crimson sunsets in the evening and the dark star filled sky in the dead of night are our domain. As we accumulate flight hours we gain confidence, knowledge and experience meant to protect us against the dangers of our chosen profession or hobby. For most of us that is enough; for others it is not. Here are 3 stories about pilots who didn’t learn, didn’t care and didn’t survive.
  1. November 14, 2009 – Woodbine, NJ

    A 53 year old pilot and his 12 year old son perished in a Piper PA-28R-200, N4499T while attempting a flight from Woodbine, NJ to Monroe County Airport in Bloomington, IN. The plan was for the father and son to depart on November 12th, but inclement weather forced a delay in departure. Another attempt to depart was made on November 13th, again forcing yet another delay in departure. However, on November 14th the forecast called for conditions to improve as the day progressed. At the time the Woodbine airport was reporting a ceiling of 300 feet between 10:00am and noon, below the published minimums for an instrument approach. The pilot, Thaddeus Lazowski, held a Private Pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land rating which he obtained in 2004. He was not instrument rated. His total time was 395 hours, including 308 hours in the Piper Arrow. The pilot departed the airport at approximately 10:40am and climbed into the overcast between the end of runway 31 and railroad tracks about 1/3 of a mile past the end of the runway. The ensuing flight lasted approximately 10 minutes resulting in a fatal crash 3,500 feet SSW of the threshold of runway 01, leaving a debris path 1,100 feet long and a 2 foot deep impact crater. You can read more about this accident at: First Accident
  2. January 2, 2009 – Staffordshire, Great Britain

    Alan Matthews, age 59, took a young couple up for an airplane ride in his Piper Cherokee. Nick O’Brien had arranged for Mr. Matthews, a co-worker, to take his wife Emma for an airplane ride as a surprise for her birthday. Mr. Matthews kept his aircraft at the Sittles Flying Club near Litchfield, and members of the club said Mr. Matthews had a penchant for giving his passengers a thrill and “throw it about a bit”, referring to his aircraft. On this day witnesses saw the plane doing wing overs and stall turns when the aircraft was seen plummeting nose first into the ground, resulting in fatal injuries to all three on board. Upon further investigation it was discovered that Mr. Matthews, a pilot of some 19 years experience, should not even have been in the air. His license had lapsed, he had no current medical and his aircraft’s maintenance records were incomplete. The O’Briens left behind two children ages 10 and 18 months. You can read more about this accident at: Second Accident
  3. November 17, 2008 – Smithfield, RI

    43 year old Robert Zoglio Jr. and his 64 year old passenger, Ronald Tetreault, died when the Piper Tomahawk flown by Zoglio on practice instrument approaches at nigh struck some treetops and crashed at the North Central State Airport. The flight approached the airport during night VFR conditions while the instrument rated pilot, Zoglio, was practicing a GPS approach to the airport. The pilot had been cleared for the approach prior to reaching the final approach fix and was advised of a frequency change at that time. Radar data showed the accident flight on course and with a steady descent from the final approach fix to about 80 feet above ground level when it struck trees about 2/3 of a mile from the runway threshold. There was no further communication with the pilot after the frequency change instructions were given, and weather at the time of the accident were 8,000 feet broken, 10 miles visibility and surface winds of 6 knots. In its usual manner the NTSB issued its determination as follows: “The pilot’s improper descent below the published minimum descent altitude during the approach, which resulted in controlled flight into terrain.” You can read more about this accident at: Third Accident
No one who flies wants to crash, nor have anyone die in an aircraft accident. But it is important to remember that flying airplanes is a serious business, and that any lack of attention, poor attitude or lack of judgment can quickly kill you. If you find yourself involved in a serious aircraft accident a good idea is to hire an experienced Aviation Lawyer to make sure that all of your rights are protected. Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7

Hey - what's happening here?

— Captain Robert Loft, Eastern Air Lines flight 401, 29 December 1972, last recorded words before crashing into the Florida everglades. PMAUXF6AAKDT

Comments (2)

  • Patrick Flannigan on June 24, 2019

    I don’t even understand the third case. With 10 mile visibility and broken clouds at 8,000 feet, the guy ought to have had the runway in sight.

    I can’t think of a safer way to fly a visual approach at night than to back it up with an instrument approach. I wonder if he was simply fumbling with the radio – choosing to communicate, navigate, THEN aviation. It’s important to do it the other way around.

  • av8erPrince on June 24, 2019

    Great post! It is so sad to learn that most of these accidents, and deaths, could have been avoided by simple use of good judgment. It pains my heart each time I hear about an accident and the “pilot error” that led to it. Once such was Cory Lidle’s crash a couple or so years ago. VFR, SR-22 airplane, and a CFI on board, all in controlled/radar contact! Here is a link to that post and a video: http://cfiacademy.com/information/human-factors/cory-lidles-cirrus-sr-22-crash-into-a-manhattan-skyscraper/

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